31 Days of Simple Change {Day 15} What’s Your Social Media Situation?

31 Days of Simple Change

So, I have a secret to share with you and I’m a little ashamed to admit it.  But here goes…I spend way too much time on social media.  Okay, not all social media.  Really, it’s Facebook.  I spend way too much time on Facebook.  You wouldn’t know it by reading my personal feed on Facebook.  A few pictures here, a couple of updates there…nothing really crazy.  But I am constantly checking Facebook and reading other people’s posts on Facebook.  My Facebook use started out as curiosity.  But somehow, over time, it turned into an unconscious habit.  I really didn’t think about it much or consider whether or not I was on it too much until one day in July when I was reading Glennon Melton’s Momasery blog.  She had written a post  called “Goodbye Internet” where Glennon announces that she is quitting the internet for 40 days.  40 days!  When I read her post, two thoughts immediately occurred to me:

  1.   “Wow, good for her!  That’s really great!” quickly followed by…
  2. “There’s no way on this great earth that I’m giving up the internet for 40 days.”

I mean, what about email?  What about Facebook?  No Internet?  Impossible!  But Glennon did it!  And then  in September she wrote a really great post entitled, “6 Reasons Social Media is Dangerous for Me.”  And I realized that she has a really good point.  Six really good points actually (well she admits that she really only listed five, but who’s really counting).   And those points resonated with me because they were my experience too.

Social Media can be a positive thing in our lives.  It can allow us to reconnect with people from our past who we typically wouldn’t see or interact with anymore…I’m thinking friends from high school or college, colleagues from previous jobs, past neighbors.  And for anyone who lives in a different city or state from family or close friends, sites like Facebook allow you to immediately share pictures or quick life updates with loved ones who you don’t get to see nearly as often as you would like.  But just like anything else in life, too much of anything can be bad.  Too much time on the internet (and for me, Facebook specifically) has a down side too.  I sit down to check Facebook for five minutes but five minutes turns into an hour.  And having a smartphone just makes my dependency easier because I can check Facebook from ANYWHERE!  Case in point, I was waiting for my daughters to come out of their dance class today and I was, of course, on Facebook.  I looked up from my smartphone and realized that every other mother in the room was also on her smartphone.  EVERY OTHER MOTHER!  Now I don’t know that they were all on Facebook, but they were almost certainly all on the internet in some form or fashion.  We don’t know each others’ names or anything about each other at all, even though we sit in the same room together every week.

It occurred to me that Facebook specifically, but probably the internet in general, has become a crutch for me.  I use it when I’m bored or when I’m looking to kill time between commitments.  I use it when I’m feeling lonely and longing to connect with other people.  And I use it as a distraction when I’m feeling stressed, upset, or any other emotion that I would rather not feel.  I’ve become increasingly aware of this habit and now I’m starting to wonder what to do about it.  I like Glennon’s conclusion that social media isn’t inherently good or bad but it’s more about the way in which we use it.  And so I’m taking some time to consider how I’m using it, and whether or not it’s helpful or hurtful to me personally.  I’ve had a couple of friends quit Facebook all together because they were unhappy with how they found themselves using it.  I doubt that will be my solution.  But the first step to making any change is being aware that there is a need for change.  I’ve taken the first step and we’ll see what the next one will be.

Throughout the month of October, I’ll be sharing some ideas for simple changes you can make to improve your life.  Did you miss a day?  Visit the 31 Days Welcome page for links to each day. 

31 Days of Simple Change {Day 2} – Be in the Moment

31 Days of Simple Change

Welcome back! It’s Day 2 of my 31 Days series and I’m so excited to see you here again!  Yesterday, we talked about the idea of slowing down.  The more hectic our lives are, the more we need to find small moments to relax, take a deep breath, and de-stress.  I briefly mentioned how difficult it can be to really focus on the people we love when we are feeling stressed about what we need to get done.  Today, I wanted to talk a little more about this idea of being in the moment.

What does it mean to “be in the moment”?  To me, it means paying attention to what you are doing and who you are with right now.  It means really focusing on the present instead of worrying about the future or rehashing the past.  Sounds easy enough, right?   So why, oh why, does it feel like such a struggle sometimes!  As easy as it sounds to pay attention to the here and now, it’s also so easy to get caught up in our own thoughts and worries that we find it impossible to focus on anything else.  And let’s be honest, smart phones and social media have made being in the moment even more challenging.  How many times have you been out to dinner with people who spent more time checking their phone than talking to you?  And what about those times when your spouse or your child is talking to you, but you’re only half listening because you’re reading your friends’ Facebook updates?  We all know what it feels like to be talking to someone who isn’t paying attention, and yet we’ve all been guilty of not paying attention to the people sitting at the dinner table with us.

“Life is all memory, except for the one present moment that goes by you so quickly you hardly catch it going.” Tennessee Williams

When we allow ourselves to be distracted by our thoughts or our smartphones, we’re not really experiencing the moment.  So how do we stay more focused on the now?  I’ve read lots of great tips about turning off your phone during meals and not checking Facebook when your kids are in the same room as you.  But I think the first step is to simply pay attention, become aware, of how you are spending the present moment.  Notice whether or not you are checking your text messages during dinner, then make a conscious choice to put the phone down.  Pay attention the next time your thoughts are on something other than the person sitting across the table from you.  Then take a deep breath and refocus your mind on the present conversation.  Don’t miss out on the moment, because the moments are what make up our lives.

What are your tips for staying in the moment?  I’d love to hear what you think!

Throughout the month of October, I’ll be sharing some ideas for simple changes you can make to improve your life.  Did you miss a day?  Visit the 31 Days Welcome page for links to each day.