Find the Balance in Your #SocialMedia Life

Category: Weekly Columns

The title of this column IS A STATEMENT. If I’d added a question mark, it would be a question. If I added “How to” at the beginning, it would be a tutorial. I made a purposeful choice with this title because I am advocating strongly to find that balance in your Social Media life much as we all strive to find balance in our lives as a whole. We all want to avoid too much stress. Some call it stress management. I’d prefer to call is LIFE management.

I read somewhere that Facebook was in the top three things included in divorce filings these days. I believe it. If not Facebook, it’s Twitter, or just browsing the web and, certainly, in many cases it’s porn and that addiction. They are all addictions and they all can be destructive.

When I began my renewed work-life, it was simply writing a column for a local throwaway paper. It took a short time once a month. But, as my new career developed, I learned Social Media. My writing grew along with increasing participation in an assortment of activities that now include hosting a radio show, writing a comic strip, doing vlogs, speaking at conventions, hosting #DadChat weekly which includes preparatory work and lining up guests, writing my now weekly column and distributing it, participating in other tweet chats, and more.

IF I allowed myself, I could never leave my work. After all, it’s portable these days. I have all the gizmos that allow me to be connected anytime, anywhere and I know where every Hot Spot is – after all there is a McDonald’s or Starbuck’s just about everywhere I go.

My family has accused me – RIGHTFULLY SO AT TIMES – of being glued to my computer. My response often was, “Hey, I’m home, I’m here, and I could be driving to an office…you can see and talk to me anytime.” Like my initials, that was B.S. I was here in body, but I was NOT PRESENT.

I am still striving for balance, and making progress. I shut down my computer every evening at some point and turn off my cell-phone. Friday nights are special for my family as we endeavor to eat together and have our rituals each Friday evening that even my teen boys appreciate.

My wife has been bugging me for literally years to take up golf so we could do more things together. I finally agreed as our other passion – skiing – is obviously something we can’t do as easily or regularly as golf. I don’t want to golf, but I want to please my wife. I’d rather take up tennis again and have her learn that. Good luck. Golf, here I come.

How to we find balance? Consider these questions and statements, below, and take some time to reflect.

~~ Do you turn it off? How often? Are you consistent? Does your family know that certain times you are completely there for them?

~~ Can you go 24 hours unplugged? Why not do that once a week?

~~ How many times a day do you look at your cell phone?

~~ Do you get physically uncomfortable when you see a large inbox of email?

~~ How much do you vacation each year? Do you determine vacations and travel to some degree by wi-fi availability?

~~ Have you asked your partner/spouse and/or your kids their feelings about you and your connectivity?

~~ Do you have coffee with friends as regularly as you visit the Apple Store?

~~ When is the last time you got together with your best friend from high school or college?

~~ Do you consider your “virtual friends” as important as your real-life friends? Do you have more of one or the other?

~~ How often do you visit and spend meaningful time with relatives, especially close ones such as parents or siblings?

One of the biggest ironies I’ve seen during this communications and technology revolution is the fact that those very devices – e.g. computers – that were supposed to make our lives easier have instead made them more complicated. We work harder and longer – at least here in American – than any other country at any time in recent history.

I suggest this isn’t the balance any of us want. I encourage you to answer the above questions, ask your own questions, and work towards a healthy equilibrium in your life for your own health and benefit as well as those who love you.

 

 

  • http://twitter.com/janetcallaway Janet Callaway

    Right on, Bruce. It seems that many of us are stepping back, assessing and seeking our balance. Tony Iannarino’s post today on disconnecting includes many of the same things you do. This morning I received a response to my query to a friend who had been MIA in the online world. His response sounded amazingly like your post.

    The online world is wonderful for a variety of reasons. Better still are the people around you who were your world prior to the online world. Live, love, laugh and appreciate those whom you would miss the most if you could no longer do those things with them.

    Best wishes for a terrific weekend of living, loving and laughing. Aloha. Janet

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      Very well put, JC! Thank you for adding your wisdom to this discussion!

  • http://pegfitzpatrick.com/ Peg Fitzpatrick

    I agree and damn, I hate email. Seriously, I hate it. I have written about this topic too. It takes TIME to maintain all the social media (tasks, approving, commenting, retweeting, etc.) Time management is critical and for me trying to maintain zero inbox helps. I strive for it but don’t achieve it all the time.

    I do not have notifications turned on my phone, iPad or on my computer because otherwise it is constantly dinging. The electronic PING of disruption and loss of focus.

    I wish you well with your goals to find balance. The world will not end if the email waits, tweet goes unread or Facebook post is answered tomorrow.

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      It won’t?

      • http://pegfitzpatrick.com/ Peg Fitzpatrick

        I promise, it won’t. 

  • http://twitter.com/CrossBetsy Betsy Cross

    I agree 100% with everything you stated when referring to people who have the blessing of being able to connect IRL with family and friends, get out, have visitors, and actually live their lives very fully without electronics.
    But consider those whose only friends are online, who play games online to pass the time, and who don’t have anyone who comes in, and they can’t go out. There are so many people whose lives are transformed by social media.
    I think you are speaking about those people who aren’t isolated, except by choice.
    I think it’s a very strong person who listens to his/her family and unplugs to spend time together.

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      Excellent point Betsy and I fully agree!

  • http://twitter.com/RaisingGreatMen Marie Roker-Jones

    Bruce, this post is a wake-up call for parents. I know that I need to find the balance because social media can be so addictive. We make excuses about why we need to be on all these sites but they are just excuses. I don’t want to neglect the people that mean the most to me because I was spending too much time online cultivating new friendships. 

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      You are right on, Marie…especially with this, “We make excuses about why we need to be on all these sites but they are just excuses…”

  • http://twitter.com/profkrg Kenna Griffin

    Bruce,

    I don’t like your questions. They make me uncomfortable. Mostly they make me realize that I am not attempting to balance at all. I stay glued to my devices and expect everyone else around me to understand. That’s no good at all. Step 1: Admit the problem. What’s Step 2?

    Kenna

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      Step 2: Do something about it…

      • http://twitter.com/profkrg Kenna Griffin

        I was going to respond to your comment here, but I realized that I was typing it as I was eating dinner. I put the phone down. Maybe that’s a small step?

        • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

          YES! Just realizing that is a HUGE step! Now, it’s MY TURN!

  • http://www.inclinedesign.info CASUDI

    Bruce ~  This is such a timely post. Two people in the last week have sent a “rant” my way about …. don’t those people in Social media have a life? What are they doing sending out business related tweets and links all weekend. Of course some of us do use tools like buffer, however aren’t weekends time for tweeting “on the lighter side”?

    I’ve restricted the number of social networks I belong to, and of those which ones I really work at. I don’t do Facebook. When I shut down in the evening I head for my FIRE (kindle that is) and I don’t have email on my Fire. Surprise……it’s for reading.  I don’t have notification “pings or dings”, I agree with Peggy, they can be very disruptive, and some of us do work. I only use my phone when I travel (I don’t have cell coverage at my home office) and I don’t hang on it all day, especially when two of us are traveling together and time can be better spent preparing for meetings, yes that means discussing and brain storming, the real life kind. I’ve tried a couple of times to do a chat on my phone, just to see if I could do it (I can’t) so I don’t need to feed my chat obsession when I travel, and anyway I think this is inconsiderate to my traveling companion, or if I am the one driving it’s a definite no!

    All in all the “GET a LIFE” message is very important and I really enjoyed how you presented it here.

     

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      Thx Caroline for the thoughtful response! I’ve seen some other similarly themed posts also…seems WE are thinking about this as a community and looking for answers and/or changes! YOU have better boundaries than I do to which I salute you. Still working on it. I exercise my thinking “out loud” – so to speak via my writing!

  • http://janiceperson.com/ Janice Person

    IMHO, finding balance in social media really takes a different look for different people — its not a one size fits all. I find I need time away from the stressful side of SM but with friends and family scattered around the US and the world at large, I have to say that I purposely find fun time for it too. And I get away from it in total and last weekend I spent the weekend with a few friends who aren’t social media folks…. they are IRL friends who I cherish and love visiting… don’t need Facebook or Twitter for that! 

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      Yes JP…isn’t it moderation in all things that works best?

  • http://brianvickery.com Brian Vickery

    An important read, Bruce. I know I am plugged in entirely too much. I talk about having a work/life balance, but I frequently use the treadmill and steam room to frame my next blog post ;). I try to read everyone’s blogs and get around to commenting, also – just want to be a good, supportive citizen!

    I definiltely like the idea of turning off the electronics for 24 hours each week – hard to do right now, but need to re-scale the work week to make it happen.

    Good news is I do still spend time with my Vickery girls, and I even get to go watch Kris play her tennis matches (and she comes to watch mine). But always good to find other ways to get away from the beeping/buzzing 😉

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      It’s an ongoing challenge, isn’t it BV! I often say that we parents really only have our kids on lease…they will be leaving IF we’ve done our jobs right, so why not enjoy the time we do have with them? There’ll be plenty of empty next time for all the SoMe you may have missed…and it will ALWAYS be there while our kids WILL NOT!

  • http://twitter.com/SnglParents Bruce Buccio

    Ive always advocated balance… and harmony in ones life regardless of profession or lifestyle so completely agree and its essential in our lives. I see you credit social media for helping develop your career. For one who’s trying to understand and get a leg up on this promotional strategy, can you (or anyone here) offer one good piece of advice for a writer like to me to make the leap into significant readership?

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      Yes Bruce…comment, Comment, COMMENT…and join Triberr! Build up your twitter followers by using Listorious or other helpful sites and come to #DadChat on Thursdays from 6 – 7 pm PT to meet our great community. WORK Social Media – it’s fun!

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  • whenpigsfly

    I think almost all of us are plugged in too much. Even those that are not bloggers or social media types have gotten sucked in to the internet void. I think it is about just turning all the gadgets off and making a conscious effort not to check them. Otherwise, the insanity never stops.

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      If ever anyone had the perfect Twitter handle for commenting on this post, it’s YOU! LOL…

  • David Weber

    Good tips.  For several years, I have written in a number of comments spaces at the end of Bruce’s writings that I am not involved in social media.  One big reason is that I don’t want to go overboard on being “plugged in.”

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      But, Professor…YOU are a Professor of Communications! You HAVE to be on Twitter! When will you allow me to give you a lesson?

  • http://twitter.com/davidbcrowley David Crowley

    Important issue Bruce, thanks! Good questions you raise. We do have a Sunday screen off day in our family (no computer for my wife & me, no TV or video games for our 6 year old). We’d been moving in that direction anyway, but solidified the ritual after reading Hamlet’s Blackberry–a good read on the subject if you haven’t checked it out yet.

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      Thanks, David. Wish I could impose that on my family but my wife is a sort of tv addict – no, just uses it to relax and my boys are teens so I have LITTLE say in anything! LOL…

  • http://twitter.com/davidbcrowley David Crowley

    Makes sense, Bruce. We do have our exceptions here…dispensation for big sporting events for instance (and major work deadlines!).

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      Like tonight, David with the Stanley Cup and NBA semi’s – oh, and this morning with the French Open women’s tennis finals – a bore, actually!

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