After a few days of trial and error, and culling from a variety of ideas, I’ve come up with a summer social media plan that I can live with:
- Monday through Friday: Schedule about 10 minutes twice a day (morning and late afternoon) to do quick social media checks, shares, likes, and comments.
- Saturday: No particular social media plan or schedule—ignore or indulge as the spirit moves me. This is the day set aside for fun online socializing, catching up with family and photos and friends.
- Sunday: Social media sabbatical. Log off.
In addition, I’ve deleted both the Facebook and Twitter apps from my phone and have turned off nearly all push notifications.
Some random impressions so far: During my usual Sunday leisure reading yesterday, I was able to engage more readily with the book on my lap (The Three-Body Problem), without interrupting myself to peek at the latest political tweetstorm or look at what friends were up to on Facebook. I’m forcing myself to wait a bit longer when I get the urge to check email, to stare into space rather than open an app during moments of boredom or indecision or anxiety, and to remind myself that everything online will still be there later today or tomorrow and even beyond.
Why am I so interested in this topic? While I don’t feel necessarily addicted to social media (you can compare your screen time to the “Bored and Brilliant” baseline averages here), I definitely have allowed screens to interrupt my thinking in ways that have interfered with goals and projects and writing. Writers in particular get a lot of advice about the value of a strong internet presence and following, but it is easy for that goal to become an end in itself, or for the addictive qualities of and, yes, the pleasure inherent in social networking (not to mention “fear of missing out” and “fear of being rude”) to eat up so much time and mental space that there is precious little left for the very writing that spurred us to create social media accounts in the first place.
At the same time, I in no way want to screen shame anyone and realize that many people, including writers and other creatives, may be able to juggle their work and screens just fine. If you are one of those lucky people, you are probably more than ready to move on to other topics this summer, which we will do tomorrow.
What social media strategies work for you?
- Is Social Media Toxic to Writing? (Publisher’s Weekly): “For me, the best way to work, the only way to work, really, is to create a space for myself in which the reader’s perception of me (as a person) does not exist. It’s only after I have squashed down all awareness of myself that I’m able to access another world and explore it freely and truthfully.”
- Quit Social Media Every Other Day (Atlantic): “Looking back on the year, or the decade, or your entire life, how much of it would you like to have spent scrolling through social/news apps? Specifically, how much of it would you like to spend reading or ranting about Donald Trump?”
- Why Social Media Isn’t Always Social (NPR): “One surprising thing that the study did not find was that people thought that others had better lives. In fact, they weren’t fooled by all the happy vacation and anniversary pictures posted by their friends, but the constant feeling of social comparison still made people feel worse.”