Are we using social media uncritically or strategically? It’s almost a given to lament the state of social media. Social media is addictive; it’s been linked to depressive symptoms; it can atrophy your ability to focus; it’s often a petri dish for tribalism and a playground for predators.
We’ve heard all of this.
At the same time, I’ve formed and maintained relationships and learned all sorts of things through social channels and podcasts. My family across the world is enriched as we share news and photos.
Regardless of whether social media is a net positive or negative, the truth is that many of us don’t have the luxury of walking away from it.
What I would say is that social media must be harnessed before it can be leveraged for good.
Here are three ways that have helped me try to do both.
Consider the location of our devices. I don’t keep my phone or ipad at my bedside. My $10 alarm clock does what I need it to. One day the battery will die and I’ll be late to school, but that is a small price to pay to avoid the issues a device would bring.
Control what we consume. I find I have to be ruthless with what I consume. Echo chambers are destructive and following people and organisations we disagree with is important because we need to be challenged. However, I need to do this on my terms and timelines. The time spent selecting our inputs has helpful returns.
Develop rituals that show what’s important. I want to make sure that Jacqui and the girls know they are far more important than whatever is on my phone. I want friends and family remembering me looking intently at them, not down at a screen.
I’m sure you can offer other tips in this area that work for you. If this blog has prompted you to ask questions about social media such as
“Are we, the adults who are influencing our children, using social media uncritically or strategically?”
“Are we engaging fruitfully rather than furiously?”
“Is the way we are engaging good for our soul?”
its done its job. If the answer to any of these is a “no”, it’s time to make a change.