Sometime back I read an article in the newspaper that said that youngsters spent too much time in the virtual world and especially on social media sites which made it difficult to interact with others in the real world. I even read about a young girl who took her own life because her parents banned her from spending time on Facebook. It got me thinking about how much social media has become a part of our lives and possibly control of us.
Way back in 2008 when 3 of my closest friends invited me to join them on Facebook, I discovered a tool that helped me to keep in touch with friends despite my hectic work schedule. I also found old school friends right from my primary school days and it was great. I felt reconnected.
Then one of my friend’s posted that she was going into Facebook hibernation. Another said she was closing her account, which she ultimately didn’t because we all raised a hue and cry. Their reason was that they were spending too much time on Facebook and it was affecting their productivity and life balance.
Some of my friends had become so obsessed with Facebook that they were updating it by the minute and expecting comments. I wasn’t seeing them anymore in person but seemed to know everything about them, the minutest detail about their mood swings and in one case even when they were entering the building or leaving it thanks to mobile application. Of course I was online. I commented, I viewed and sometimes didn’t comment. But I was online. After all, I didn’t want to miss anything. If there was a group called Facebook Anonymous, quite a few of us most probably could have been sponsored!
I started to wonder if I had Facebook addiction.
It was not just Facebook. If I got a message that I had a new follower, I felt the compulsion to log in and say thank you. Was I being tweeted or retweeted? One message and I was running to Twitter to engage. Ditto for LinkedIn.
The number of times I felt the need to check on Facebook, LinkedIn discussions and Twitter for that matter was unbelievable; such was the lure of social media. My moment of clarity was the turning point for me. I realized that if I didn’t do something fast, Social Media would take control of my life.
In all fairness, Twitter, Facebook , LinkedIn and Skype have made it possible for us to have discussions and online interactions with dozens or even more people every day. Used wisely, social media can be a tool which helps us to connect on both professional network sites like LinkedIn and social sites like Facebook. If you are blogging, it facilitates reaching out to a wider audience.
The dark side is that social media can also take up a lot of your time. In time management lingo, I would classify it as busy time or wasted time depending upon how one uses social media.
From a time management and balance perspective to ensure focus and time for high priority matters, I suggest allocating specific time to social media on a daily or weekly basis. It goes without saying that the time allocation should be when you are actually relaxing or non-productive.
If the self-discipline is a problem, then consider going cold turkey. You will experience withdrawal symptoms depending upon the level of your addiction but you will live. In either case, it would be good to disable features in your social sites so that notices and messages do not land up in your email inbox prompting a mad scramble to log in and checkout news or post comments.
If you are managing a Facebook or LinkedIn Page or Group, then perhaps timing may be a challenge. Work out a system that will ensure that you are present to engage but not an excuse to loiter around.
A few timely actions and you might find yourself having more phone chats, writing emails and letters or even meeting up with friends a lot more. In any case, real-life relationships are always better than real time ones.
What about you? Have you ever felt that the internet and social media in particular had taken control over your time and life? How did you get out of it? Please do share!
Written By: Vatsala Shukla
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