Saturday, March 12, 2011

Mindfulness, Unplugging and Social Media Envy

Last weekend, from sundown, March 4th to sundown, March 5th, I turned off my cell phone, laptop, and TV as part of the National Day of Unplugging.

It was awesome.

My head was clearer.

I felt less stressed.

Pockets of time opened up.

And my husband and I had so much fun.  We went out and saw friends, went for a walk around the lake near our house, read books while listening to music, worked on creative projects we're often "too busy" to do, and went to sleep early.

As a blog and social media coach, it's probably not a good idea for me to tell you to spend less time on your computer and cell phone, but honestly, it was one of the best things I've done in years.

Synchronistically, later in the week I listened to a free call with Jennifer Louden, Bridget Piloud, Marianne Elliott, Tara Gentile, and Tara Sophia Mohr, about Self-Care, Mindfulness and Social Media.  Some of my favorite takeaways from the call were:

  • Marianne takes a moment to get centered before opening her computer.
  • Jen uses a timer and sets an intention before using social media.
  • Tara Sophia stays aware that social media can be addictive.
  • Bridget keeps a Post-It reminder on her computer that asks, "What is social media doing for me emotionally?"

My number one mindfulness tip is to be aware of social media envy.  Social media has made it incredibly easy for people to share their creations and build their organizations.  Witnessing their evolution can inspire you, and, if you put on your comparison glasses, bite you with the envy bug.

My favorite cure for social media envy is to use the Jealous Map exercise from Julia Cameron's book, The Artist's Way:
  1. Ask yourself, "Why am I envious of this person?" (e.g. their blog is soooo beautiful).
  2. Take an action that incorporates what you envy into your own life (e.g. spruce up your own blog's design, use more photos in your posts).
Given my experiences last week, and the rise of events like the Wisdom 2.0 Conference, I have to ask myself, as a social media coach and heavy user:

Should I be using, and teaching people to use, social media more, or less?

What do you think? How do you feel about the role of social media in your personal and professional life?

Photo by me and made pretty with Instagram.

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  1. Thanks for this great post! In response to your question 'should u be teaching people to use SM more or less, it really is a question of using it responsibly. Like anything that can become additive, ask yourself the following question- is my family suffering due to my use of SM? Are my relationships suffering due to my use of SM? If your child looks at u and says ' mom, can I open a twitter or facebook Acct so I can speak with u?' then there is an issue. SM can play a very positive role in your business if used with caution and care. It is a microblogging/messaging site, but that does not mean u have to send 100 140 character messages. If your message is powerful enough people will listen. If not then rethink what you are saying and make those 140 characters count.

  2. Thanks for this post. Those of us who are always online need to remember that we have lives away from the keyboard. :)

  3. I am doing an MA in Community Development specializing in the non-profit sector. My assignment this week was to use social medial to post a synthesis of my learning about managing relationships. After getting lost online for 5 hours I chose your post for a couple of reasons. For one, I do think it is good to turn off and ensure a sense of balance. I want to know more and be more active and yet getting lost in it is not very productive and takes me out of balance and most often negatively impacts the relationships that are most important. I also worry about the shift in values and how the overuse of social media may be impacting future generations and yet I want to celebrate the increased inclusion and accessibility and for some an identity they may be otherwise denied. The other reason I chose your post is I realized I had a little social media envy going on. I think your closing question about more or less use deserves more attention.

  4. Thanks for sharing your social media reflections 365give, Mighty and Lucie!

  5. Britt, thanks for the thought-provoking post. It's been on my mind a lot especially after the Wisdom 2.0 conference. The jury was out on how much is too much when it comes to social media, but the universal was the necessity of "unplugging" time.

    I've considered my social media usage and championship to others of these tools when I notice the calm that comes with unplugging. It's definitely about finding balance. I think it would help if the social media training and advocacy out there emphasized just as much the importance of time management strategies for using these tools responsibly. Since these technologies are part of our world now, we need to find ways of dealing with them so they remain just tools.

  6. penguinasana ~ You're right on about the time management piece. My Juicy Blogging e-course finished last month and the number one obstacle the students faced was time.

  7. I appreciate this post! My partner and I turn our computers off all weekend long and every night after 6. It's wonderful -- it always re-centers us in a big way and helps us appreciate technology the rest of the time. I love the practice!

  8. Thx for the great post! I am a big fan of unplugging and only using media as tools...of connection, education, transformation, mindful/fruitful work and even play...

    We definitely live in an age where social media/technology and computing in general can become addictive, numbing, distracting and demanding. Space from technology frequencies is always empowering and refreshing for me, as is right use of time/energy and intent with all things media.

    Generally speaking, the proof is in the pudding. What are the fruits of time plugged in or unplugged? And what are the roots that must be watered first to enjoy the fruits of life? Whole Life/Whole Being integration in this wild, fast, crazy, wonderful world...That is the kind of teaching you do within the social media world! *LOVE it*! Your niche.

  9. 100% agreed - word to word! To me Social Media is the most hyped around buzz word of current times. We all know it; We all understand it; And we all are, well at times, upset about it. I have tried to use simple techniques like "Learn about Time Management", "Define your goals properly", "Prioritize your activities", etc. to make sure I don't get addicted and glued to my facebook account all the time. I have tried to capture all that in my blog:

    Hope it will help others too.


  10. Thanks so much for sharing your reflections Gabriela and Guatam!

  11. Helpful. Especially the reminder about jealousy. When I am jealous I want to remember to ask myself, "What can I do to be more like that person. Who do I long to become." That feels better than the ick of jealous hatred.


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