I previously posted that life is there for the taking, every moment counts, even your commute, and by spending much of it using social media, you ain’t taking nothing. (Did you know that 90% of my blog posts are drafted on my 45 minute commute?)
But here’s the shocker – I’ve changed my mind (just a touch, but this is my blog after all so I’m allowed :-))
Why? Because I recently experienced a little bit of the power that social media can offer – and no I’m not talking about all those damn cat videos.
I recently agreed to try the whole life challenge (an 8 week ‘game’ that touches 7 different areas of your life with the aim to form lasting positive habits) with some fellow CrossFit buddies and despite my initial resistance I also joined a private Facebook group they set up.
Everyday people would share their experiences, post images, link to relevant articles, moan to each other, encourage each other. So I admit, for 8 weeks Facebook was used nearly everyday on my commute, sometimes more than once a day. However – the reason I enjoyed this so much was that:
The other people in the group were sharing a common experience, so the posts weren’t just a random news feed. It was highly relevant to me at that time.
The group was made up of people I see regularly in the flesh. So using Facebook didn’t create a false relationship, it enhanced existing ones that were being reinforced by meeting face to face.
I actively participated. I didn’t just read the posts, but I commented on them, posted some of my own, asked questions.
This had a limited lifetime. The challenge lasted for 8 weeks only, so it was only ever a temporary thang. After the challenge finished I deliberately made sure I broke the habit quickly, before getting sucked into becoming another zombie randomly scanning news feeds.
Like all things in life balance is key. Active participation is also key.
I stand by my previous post. If you just aimlessly scroll through social media feeds you are still wasting time and opportunities on your commute / life in general. That time would be better spent reading, writing, learning or talking.
But I’ve learnt that if you join or set up a specific group for like minded people who you know and see regularly, and who are sharing a common experience, the sense of community that can be found through social media can be welcoming, unjudgemental and, well, wonderful.
However – *I’m now pulling my serious face and looking right at you* – here’s some words of warning:
It’s all too easy to drift into bad habits and to start loosing time in the ether of nothingness, reading the highlights of other people’s lives (most people don’t share the low lights after all), seeing where they have been on holiday, their ever smiling kids, their new car and to start comparing yourself to them and your life to theirs.
This is fruitless nonsense. This is time you’ll never get back. This is you letting your life leak away between your fingers.
Make a conscious effort to break the habit quickly when the original event the group was created for has ended, or you notice your interactions changing and becoming more passive and disengaged.
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Quit while you’re ahead. Be brutal with it. Use social media for your own short term benefit, then when your done chuck it away again.
Oh – and don’t get distracted by those damn cat videos.