Balancing social media

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pic credit: Dialog

I went to tweetupSL 7 yesterday. I have missed last 2 years.

So many new young faces, and the interactions gave me the flavour of young aspirations and new trends in social media. Right now, the intensity of  interaction is high, one of the main factors is the inclusion of local languages. It’s much more engaging when one can type in your own language.

On twitter, we follow so many unknown people. It’s great to meet someone in person after I had followed and interacted with them for like 3 years. Most of the time, when I meet in person, I see a different personality from his or her online presence. So yeah, we have our split personalities: online and offline. This very core human nature brings in numerous issues and tensions on social media. Social media promised us harmony around 2007, we wanted everyone in the world to be on social media. Yet we find ourselves in unwanted trouble in 2017, because when we have many people on social media, we get to see all of their problems too. You just cannot have good things only. Just like life.

I was asked this question by Amila, and I had to answer to the audience – ‘how did twitter helped in your life and work?’

I actually reflected on this same question, few days back after I watched Chamath Palihapitiya’s rant about how bad social media is, especially facebook.. He asked people to move away from social media. I guess yes, when you are popular and influential. No one needs your tweets to validate your authority in the field. But for the rest of us, who are ordinaries, social media is a gift of unfathomable proportions. Provided, we use it safely, with empathy and with patience. (UPDATE: yesterday, Chamath has taken back his own words. Again emphasising my point, we need balance)

I joined twitter in 2009. I’ve connected to great people and brilliant ideas on twitter. I cannot count them, but I can assure it is in thousands. So many long term business partnerships were formed through twitter and other social media introductions. Many good friends were found, some of them feels like my family.

Yet where do I draw the line? Too much of anything is bad. Too much of video streaming is bad.  Getting to phone the moment we are bored is bad. Too much of scrolling in your phone as a habit is bad.

Part of what Chamath says is true. Social media can own you, take control of what you think. It can create a small bubble in your mind and can make you think that what you see in your feed is the truth. It has happened to me. It became an addiction and then I had to get out of it. That’s where digital detoxes helps me. And there are apps to help me to get in to digital detox. 

Technology inclusion in our lives are inevitable. We must be part of it to explore the opportunities. We must also take care of our personal hygiene, so we become mindful in a world full of information.

Digital Detox ( facebook and twitter)

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pic credit

For the past 2 weeks, I formed a new habit. Once in a week, I’ll have a 24 hour vacation from facebook and twitter. Which means one day out of a 7 day week, I’ll be out of facebook and twitter. I questioned my self and got the answers. Here they are.

Q: Why just facebook and twitter? Why not email and chat apps?

facebook and twitter are the most addictive time wasters for me. Keeping a tab on that is really digital detox for me.

Q: How do you select the day ?

I select the day I can afford to be off the grid. I select the day I have to be off the grid. Which means the day I need to be full productive ( Or fully reflective) and also the day I can afford to be offline, which is when I feel people will need lesser interaction with me. This requires judgement. I also mention that I am going offline in a post on both FB and twitter.

Q: How do you really stay out of it. What’s the process ?

In my laptop I activate self control app for 24 hours. In my mobile I uninstall both FB and twitter apps. That’s it. I have no access to FB and twitter now.

Q: Uninstalling apps and installing again, isn’t that a pain?

Yes, it is. That’s why I found this wonderful app Appblock. More about that in a post later.

Q: What do you gain out of this. ?

I love FB and twitter. I learn a lot from people. I have the chance to promote my work. I can get help. I can reach out to people. With out FB and twitter I cannot imagine what would it be like to do the work I do.

But, there comes a time, that I cannot just let go off the phone to browse even at the slightest opportunity. That is when I know I need a detox. Then I plan the work and go offline. It’s just 24 hours. It’s not that much of a time for me to miss anything worthwhile in the internet. But it’s a more than enough time period for me to detox and come back fresh.