Back in July, I decided that I needed to do something about my out-of-control habits on social media. I was spending far too much time wasting the day away on something that had little importance on my daily life.
While social media has been my lifeline to the outside world for years, I've realized how toxic that environment has become. And with everything else going on in the world, for the sake of my mental sanity, something needed to be done.
So, I set out on a mission to realign my social media habits with my goals and aspirations—and it has been a struggle.
It's an addiction.
We are in an election year, both in New Zealand and in the USA, which has helped to deter me from the social media feeds. I hate politics, even though I have definite political views. But politics on social media is a disaster waiting to happen, and I have always distanced myself from that as much as possible.
However, it's the random tidbits of information about science or technology that are my weakness. And it's the interactions with others regarding writing, science, and the daily struggles that we all face.
I'm a social bunny—which is why I write in isolation.
And it's only Facebook that really seems to be a problem.
Twitter goes by in such a flurry that I have never really enjoyed sticking around for long drawn out conversations. I struggle to keep track of it. With Instagram, it's a matter of scrolling quickly through the feed, liking a few photos and commenting when the mood strikes me, but that's about it. And LinkedIn… Seriously, I have always found that platform confusing to build the interactions, so I don't bother.
My other social media, including Pinterest and Tumblr, sits in the background and quietly gets ignored. My posts there are 100% automated, because to put it blunt, there are only so many hours in the day.
But Facebook… The groups there are my biggest weakness. If I'm not careful, what was a focused reason for going to a group, making a comment on a specific post—often an accountability post—can easily turn into an hour, commenting on everything that I can find on that group. And I really need to stop it.
It's about finding the much-needed balance.
As I mentioned in my previous post, if I do the "switch off" and go cold turkey, I cut myself off completely from my support networks.
Sorry, folks, but no-way, no-how. Not doing that. I rely on those support networks to keep me sane! BUT, I have noticed a change in my habits that is improving things.
When I look at my notifications, I quickly scan through for anything that is a comment that mentions me or is a reply to a comment I've made. For new posts in a group, I only go to certain groups now, and I stick to a maximum of two or three scrolls of my mouse. And I've stopped posting to my personal profile, only sharing posts of relevance from my author page.
That last one is important to my mental mindset, because I'm strict on myself about what I will and will not post on my author page. Certain topics (like politics and religion) are a NO GO for my public feeds. There are topics that are borderline on my blog, but I am viciously protective of my brand, so I'm careful what I say with a full understanding on how things can be interpreted.
By shifting my activities to be via my public page on Facebook (mostly; not all groups allow pages to join the group), I'm able to stay away from those "27 Red Carpet Fashion Disasters" posts.
I have become quieter and quieter on social media. This could be a good thing and a bad thing. Good, because I'm finding myself again and focusing on my writing and editing. Bad, because there is still this "you must have an active online presence" mentality that is floating around in the publishing world, but I've decided that I can't be bothered with that thought anymore.
My goal for my personal writing is to become published with multiple books under my name. For that to happen, I need to write multiple books—not be spending my time on social media. For my editing goals, I want to help others obtain published status, and help them write books that they can be proud of for years to come. Again, I can't be spending time on social media for that to happen.
Current outcome of the social media realignment…
I still have a long way to go in finding the balance needed to juggle home life, online life, and writing/editing. But I'm getting there.
There is a calmness that is talking over my persona, and I'm not riled up as much as I was in the past about meaningless things.
And whenever I forget what really matters, I glance at the little note that I have posted sitting right next to my monitor: You don't owe the internet anything!
Given everything that we've been forced to face in 2020, I have a adopted a specific mantra that helps me to focus on the tasks at hand.
Focus on what you can control. Everything else will happen the way they want to.