I don’t like social media.
Let me be clear. I like that it exists because I think it keeps us all connected in a way that I couldn’t have imagined as a kid. I love how it makes me a part of the world’s community, not just my local community. I enjoy meeting new people online and have made some great friends who I’ve never met face to face. I love sharing my work with people worldwide, and I like how easy social media makes sharing.
I’ll go a step further. I love how platforms like Youtube have made celebrities out of everyday people. Matt Santoro, Rob Dyke, Jenna Marbles, I love the work these people are creating. I love how free their lives are.
What I don’t like is scrolling through Facebook and Twitter. It bores me, that’s it. For every picture of a friend’s baby, there are seven passive aggressive tweets. For every announcement that an indie author friend is launching a new book, I’ve got to wade through nine posts from people I went to high school with and have since gotten really concerned about preventing interracial marriage.
So I don’t much like social media. I pretty much stick to my own little corners of the internet, my Facebook writing groups and such. I really have to force myself to do anything else.
I understand that not all of you reading this feel that way. Some of you reading this really like social media.
More power to you.
Some of you reading this, though, may have a problem with social media.
The kind of problem that needs to be addressed.
But it can be hard to tell! How do you know if you have a problem with social media? I hesitate to call it an addiction, but it’s pretty damn similar. If you think you might have a problem, here are some things to consider.
Time doesn’t matter as much as you think.
You can’t measure an addiction by how much time you spend doing it, or how much you do at a time. I drink a lot of nights, but I’m not an alcoholic. I know I’m not, for the reasons we’ll get into below.
So you can’t say, “Oh, I only spend a half an hour on Facebook, it’s not a problem.” You also can’t say, “I spend hours on Facebook, clearly I have a problem!”
All that being said, there’s a good chance you don’t know how much time you’re actually spending on social media.
Lots of time management specialist suggest tracking your time for many different reasons. I’m going to suggest you do the same, but pay special attention to how much time you spend on social media. You should be able to find an app to help you track it.
I suggest you do this for at least a week because one day will probably not give you a fair view of your habits.
Are you neglecting your obligations?
Once you’ve tracked how you spend your time, you can start seeing patterns.
On the day that you didn’t get anything done on your to do list, did you spend a lot of time on Twitter?
When you should have been studying, were you scrolling through Instagram?
When you promised yourself you’d write, did you lose hours to Facebook instead?
Have you ever been late for work, or caught on your smart device at work when you’re supposed to be working?
Don’t forget, an obligation to yourself is still an obligation.
Is it making you do or say things you wouldn’t normally?
Confession time: Once upon a time, before I had PBW, during the roughly eight years I spent not writing, I used to be on Facebook a lot.
And I had a bad habit of getting into fights on Facebook. You see, I have this problem; I can’t shut up when I think someone’s being cruel. I can’t help but start fights. I once got into a serious argument over whether schools should teach cursive writing. Like, viciously insulting another grown ass adult over it. (If you’re wondering, I’m against it. I think that literally everything else we learn in school, including PE, is more important. Cursive’s pretty, teach it as an art form. That’s what it is, anyway.)
It shouldn’t surprise you that I’m a pretty calm, level headed person in real life. I’ve worked my whole adult life in customer service, so I’m pretty good at keeping my temper in check. And I have enough self-respect to argue like an adult, keeping to facts and avoiding vulgar language when I’m trying to make a point. (Not so much if you’ve just cut me off and I feel that my life was in danger. Or, you know, if I drop a coffee filter on the floor.)
The point is, I found that when I was arguing online, I wasn’t the same person I normally am. I wasn’t someone I liked, either.
How do you feel when you’re done?
When I was prone to arguing online, normally on Facebook, it was also wrecking my day offline. I’d get so damn pissed about whatever fight I was having with whatever stranger, and that anger would stay with me.
How do you feel when you’re done on social media. Do you feel good, like you’ve caught up with your friends and family? Do you, like me, feel like you got something good accomplished?
Do you have any good feeling afterward?
If not, maybe you need to ask yourself what the hell you were wasting your time on.