Just when I think I’m getting a handle on all the whiz-bang apps, platforms and social media sites, something new arrives on the scene. This past week it was the announcement of Google-Plus, which according to the hype, is designed to organize our connections better and feel more distinctive (my word) than Facebook (FB)
My first thought after reading the announcement about Google-Plus was, “Oh great, another social networking opportunity that will eat my time and dull my gray matter…” And then I caught myself—I was experiencing a mild case of social media fatigue! I would imagine (but have no corroborating research to verify this) that many, if not all of us, experience social media fatigue a couple of times a month.
So, I asked some of my students and friends, “How do you fight social media fatigue?” Here is a smattering of responses:
- “I ration my time on social networking sites to one hour a day.”
- “I’m bored with the whole Twitter thing, so I just don’t open it, I don’t read it, and I don’t respond. I just don’t care anymore.”
- “When I meet a friend for a drink, I turn off my phone, so I am totally present.”
- “I check for invites and discounted coupons and ignore the rest.”
To this list I’d like to add my own five remedies.
#1. Make a real connection. When was the last time you took out a piece of paper and a pen and wrote a letter to your mom, dad, or sibling? Or when was the last time you actually bought a birthday card for a friend, wrote a personal note inside, found a stamp, and actually mailed it to the person? Sending a card or letter achieves what no tweet or post can do: it delights the receiver. Long after the tweet has scrolled into oblivion and the FB post has faded, a card or a letter has staying power.
#2. Get Perspective. The purpose of technology is not to overtake your life, but to empower your ability to enjoy life. Are you managing your social media or is it managing you? Do you really need a new network to join? If the answer is, “Uh, not really,” then let it go.
#3. Focus on the positives of social media. Everyday, I thank the technology gods for GPS, Yelp!, Google Search, university library databases, online recipes, Skype, funny videos on YouTube, mobile updates, and many other platforms, websites, and networks that make me a more effective teacher, researcher, consultant, and cook.
#4. Consciously choose your own tempo. One of the great things about social media is that you can start something, join in, drop out, vent your opinion, create an impression, learn something new, participate in your democracy, find a great cause, or just follow along. You are totally in control.
#5. Take a break and go for a walk. Truly, the best way to get over social media fatigue is to step away from the keyboard and get out of your house or apartment without your mobile phone for an hour or longer. Connect with nature. Listen to the sounds of the neighborhood. Smile and relax.
I took my own advice this morning and now I’m back at the keyboard, refreshed and ready for research.