Surviving Social Media
I have mixed feelings about my relationship with social media.
Ok…that likely came as a surprise to know one. In fact, you too may have weird-ish, good mixed with bad ranging from jealously to self-criticism or just flat out rage when it comes to the big wide world of the world wide web.
I’m here to help.
Or maybe just to vent and re-commit to my social media survival strategies.
Either way, here we go.
I have days where I feel like quitting the thing all together.
Delete my accounts, change my name, and move to a secluded island in the Caribbean where no one will take my picture ever again.
Though if I did keep my accounts and share all my beach yoga photos, I could probably get like a million followers.
My three major gripes with social media seem to be:
- It sucks up an embarrassingly large amount of my time.
- It strikes me as a vapid black hole of vanity, narcissism and over sharing.
- Everyone has an opinion and somehow these online platforms have made it seem that everyone’s opinion should hold or does hold equal weight regardless of education, experience, or expertise.
- People are annoying.
Ok, that was FOUR!
See, I have issues!
Before I got a smart phone and a Facebook account, I didn’t realize that I too would fall pray to the addiction of constant stimulation. Staring off into space is something I rarely do anymore, opting instead to pick up my phone and see what a bunch of people I don’t really know are up to on the inter webs.
Some of the time, I judge them.
Turns out I’m addicted to sensory stimulation and judging other people.
Wonder if they make a pill for that?
To be fair, there are things I like about social media.
I enjoy sharing thoughts, cool photos, and semi-inspirational life lessons.
I enjoy seeing others thoughts, cool photos, and semi-inspirational life lessons.
I love following @mlb during the baseball season and seeing bloggers create wardrobe capsules. You know, where they pick five or ten items from their closet and make a whole bunch of different outfits! Love that.
I really love social media because it connects me to all of you.
People I’ve known for 20 years and people I’ve never met but have a shared connection. All of you out there who sent me hundreds of messages when I had surgery or laugh at my silly jokes, that’s the best part.
Since I’m not going anywhere and I think the trend of social media has some longevity, I figured instead of mindlessly consuming and beating myself up about it, I’d get strategic.
Here’s my strategy for staying sane in my online life.
1) Create more than you critique. Share more than you consume.
People share whack-a-doo, marginally racist, very uninformed nonsense on line #everydamnday. It is tempting to blow your top, especially when those folks have upwards of 100k in followers. Not to mention the cultural climate of the day where we feel obliged to pounce on the slightest insensitivity or oversight. It has never made me feel like I’m helping by commenting on a post I wildly disagree with though I have on occasion sent an email or personal message inviting dialogue.
Maybe you think the visibility is important, I can respect that I suppose. Though I happen to think that the surest way to losing all hope in humanity comes from reading the comments section of any major news publication or controversial cultural post.
Do not lose yourself in a rage tornado.
Create something else.
Satire. Poems in Iambic Pentameter. Whatever.
Share your voice in a unique way instead of clogging the echo chamber of comments that can be groomed and deleted.
Sure you have a small following, but your voice matters.
Share what you believe in, not everything you stand against.
2) Diversify your feed.
I’m a yoga teacher, but I don’t follow many “yoga” accounts unless they are friends or colleagues of mine. I study and practice yoga everyday. I look at other people doing asana all dayyyyy longggg. It is not interesting to me to see people’s pictures of asana on the internet, especially if it’s one of those very curated pages of fancy shapes.
I see why others would find that inspiriting, but I just don’t care.
Instead I follow baseball players, and artists, and activists, and wardrobe capsule people. That makes my Instagram feel more like a fun hobby and less like work. I get way more inspiration out of seeing and reading about things I don’t know much about than judging how other people do “my thing.”
3) Unfollow, Unfollow, Unfollow
This seems so obvious, but it bears repeating.
There is no one on the internet that you have to follow. (Except for Beyonce)
I don’t care if you’ve followed them for ages or they’re the biggest yoga influencer on the Internet. You don’t even have to follow your mom. If she pissed you off, block her!
Do not let the goblin of jealousy and self-doubt take up that much of your time.
Do not make a public announcement of your “unfollow.”
Just quietly and unceremoniously leave the page.
If it’s really triggering, block that account so it doesn’t show up in your feed.
4) Keep it social
Social media is another form of media which means its curated. You can have a nice, edited page. I find a page that’s too pretty feels sterile. There’s no personality there. You don’t need to brand yourself from day one on your platform. Just show up. Talk to people, reply to comments and DMs. Put the connection in your page or it will get tedious and feel like a job. Maybe it is your job? If it really is your only job, I probably don’t follow your page…because I think it’s boring.
5) Support others
This is the surest way to beat the social media blues. Share other people’s stuff and give them credit. Post their photos, share their workshop offerings, give them “high five” emojis. Amplify the voices out there that make a difference to you.
Andrea Ferretti made two wonderful podcasts about this topic with additional strategies that are really worth listening to. Find them here:
Conversation with Jason Crandell, “Staying Sane and Enjoying Social Media,” https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/summer-series-ep-2-staying-sane-and-enjoying-social-media/id1105565152?i=1000414099137&mt=2
Conversation with Sally Kempton: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/episode-114-the-good-bad-ugly-of-the-ego-with-sally-kempton/id1105565152?i=1000416917278&mt=2