Vent Sesh: Social Media

February 27, 2013

Vent Sesh: Impact of Social Media

I met someone this weekend who told me she gave up social media for Lent. So freeing (ok, and truth, a little scary!). One fast downfall she faced? She got a call from a friend who asked where she was. What do you mean, she inquired. Apparently it was a friend’s birthday and the only note was via a Facebook message. Definitely no call, and not even a text or email when she never replied (despite her telling them she was taking the break).

While social media sites promise to deliver increased connectivity, I totally believe they break down communication with ones you should be investing time in. Should I care who’s wearing what, who purchased a new piece or jewelry or is eating a great meal as I’m perusing Instagram pics instead of spending time with my family? Why am I checking Facebook or Twitter — to see what others are doing — during a highway drive with my family when we actually have a few minutes to ourselves? And, most importantly…

How often does checking any social media site make you feel better about YOU? 

Rarely, if you ask me. Look at that amazing DIY or dessert on Pinterest I’ll never have time to make (mostly because I’m so busy pinning instead of doing!); check out that girl wearing an entirely designer outfit I can’t/won’t buy; and see how friends (and I use that term loosely here) are enjoying a night out while I’m in my pajamas, or posting cute pics of their kiddie while mine is screaming like crazy.

I recently removed about 20 friends from Facebook and it was so. so. liberating. I could really eliminate another 150 if we’re being honest. My birthday is coming around next month so I’m confident my wall will be filled with random ‘happy birthday’ {yes, all lowercase and correct, no punctuation} by people who know me so little there’s a chance we could pass each other in the mall and not even realize it. So, should I really invest my time in them, or share with them details about my life?

I say this in the nicest way possible: I need to stop living your life and must start better living mine. I must become more present with the people in my life that really matter. 

Sadly, I’ve created an addiction, partially thanks to my job. Our firm manages social media for at least a handful of clients so I sadly don’t even have the option to give it up for a month. Though, why can’t I give it up for an hour? The world won’t end if I see one less photo of a baby, read one less recommended article or see which brand is having a flash sale from 8 pm to midnight.

Have you recognized how social media has become problematic in your life?  Does an event happen if it’s not recorded on your Facebook timeline? That’s the dismal/truthful reality we live in, where the minute a moment happens or the reason a photo is taken, is not to save it to look back and smile but rather to share the highs of our lives with others not with us. Why? What does this prove with each “like” we receive?

Vent Sesh icon

As a blogger I’ve created a real need for “likes” and oddly enough, worked to create a brand where people want to see what’s happening here. Being honest: I’m constantly checking for new social media followers, how many people gave my little #ootd (outfit of the day) a heart on Instagram and who commented on a tweet. And, I read articles about how to grow more followers, curate Instagram photos to get more likes and write tweets that generate retweets. Yes, it’s been hugely helpful for my job and valuable for growing the blog, but I don’t want to live in a place — or only feel validated — if people I hardly know compliment my outfit, my post or my idea. It’s fun, of course!, but it shouldn’t keep me and others going.

I’ve spoken to countless people about the topic so I know I’m not alone (and I do have a few friends who have held out on Facebook!), but am I the only one who feels she needs to take a step back a bit?

My spring resolution is to do a better job of remaining focused on the people in my physical space instead of in the virtual one (sorry!! I still love you guys so much and will be here plenty!). I know this is a legit issue because we literally had to instill a “no phones at the dinner table” rule, and my daughter is adoring the iPad a little too much. My husband just shared an article where at dinner parties or nights out, groups of people put all their phones in the center of the table… the first one to grab theirs pays!

Woah, sorry to drone on here but I think this seemingly innocent topic has massively large implications if we let it rule our day, our lives. There’s always going to be one more app and one more way to connect virtually with someone else, be it a friend or someone who have not yet met. And, I should say I think social media is valuable in a million ways: for close family and friends who live far away, amazing! For staying up on news and learning about trends, I love it. And, it’s so great to learn more about a person, a brand, a blogger. But maybe I can be Ok with learning a little bit less. :)

I’m focusing on creating real memories, and hoping those near me will call me out if I instinctively grab the phone too much. I’m trying to make more plans with friends, see family more, call friends who don’t live nearby (still working on this; where’s the hours?!), or just somehow reaching out in a way where it’s OK if the whole world doesn’t see the communication; it still means it happened.

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  • Kimberly

    This post is right-on, Alyson – I couldn’t agree with you more and I think it’s important that we make the necessary changes now to focus on the things of value, not just for ourselves, but because we are setting an example for our kids. It’s such a different world that they are growing up in than the one we did and trying to navigate that and guide them in the right way is one of our greatest challenges as a parent!

    http://www.pennypincherfashion.com

    • Alyson

      Totally agree… it’s scary that our children might not learn how to effectively communicate and will be so internet driven. I’m working to prevent that! Thank you for taking the time to comment, Kim!

    • http://twitter.com/AvgGirlsGuide The Avg Girl Guide

      Kids and social media scare me more than anything. Imagine where we were 10 years ago, nearly scary to imagine where we will be 10 years from now. Really have to work to not allow these outlets to become so invasive into our lives.

  • Kayla

    This is great Alyson! Every point is so true. Sometimes I think I spend more time on my phone than actually living my life! Thanks for the vent sesh.. lots of great things to think about! However I am thankful I am able to keep up with you on social media! : )
    Kayla
    http://www.lovelucygirl.com

    • Alyson

      Awww, love keeping up with you and other new friends on social media and I’m SO grateful for that. But I’m the same… it’s just too much time on my phone and not enough time with the people in front of me who actually want to spend time with me. I need to better prioritize.

    • http://twitter.com/AvgGirlsGuide The Avg Girl Guide

      So happy to keep up and connect with wonderful women like you but definitely need to put down the phone (myself included!). I find leaving it out of the room, where I can hear it but not attached to me, is sometimes helpful.

  • http://hemsforher.com/ Hems for Her, a.k.a. Katie

    I am sharing this everywhere I can… after I delete some FB “friends”. You are so so so right, and I hope I can incorporate this into my own real life!

    • Alyson

      Yes! Way to go, Katie! It’s hard to admit that you’re not really connected or friends with some people but it’s the truth for all of us. Thank you for sharing.

    • http://twitter.com/AvgGirlsGuide The Avg Girl Guide

      Yay for deleting FB “friends”… I removed 57 and felt so powerful. Hope you’re keeping up with it!

  • Chris E

    You are so right. Nothing makes me more sad than to see a parent with a child in a stroller and either talking, texting or with ear buds in their ears. Instead, talk and interact with that baby!!!!

    • Alyson

      I agree, and worst of all I’ve definitely been guilty of being on my phone while with my daughter. TOO MUCH, and it’s sad considering how little time I get to spend with her each day. Must reign it in.

    • http://twitter.com/AvgGirlsGuide The Avg Girl Guide

      Exactly!! Need to align our priorities… myself included, I’ve definitely been guilty over giving my phone/internet friends more attention than my daughter. Awful to admit.

  • Paige

    Great post Alyson! I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, especially since I’ve been on medical leave and using social media more frequently. Social media has become one of the easiest (if not laziest) forms of communication. It’s great to send a quick “HBD” post of “like” someone’s post when they buy a new home to someone you may not speak with frequently and still want to make ” Internet small talk”. But then when someone’s birthday pops up on your feed and you don’t even want to write on their page, why are you even friends with them?! You don’t even care to send a smile their way, You aren’t even making “internet small talk” with them! It’s honestly one of the lowest forms of modern communication. Since my injury I’ve been fortunate to receive overwhelming support from family & friends, especially in real life. You realize who you true support system is, and how many “Facebook” only friends don’t even bother to send warm wishes your way via “Internet small talk”. Maybe they missed your post, maybe they don’t make it a point to “like” anything, whatever.

    It’s so much more meaningful when you communicate with people away from social media. It’s been one of the most positive things about my recovery is the amount of quality “Face time” I’m spending with people in real life. This period in my life has definitely taught me more about the value of quality time and quality communication.

    • Alyson

      LOL, exactly! If I don’t feel compelled to write someone a lame happy birthday message on Facebook are we friends? Definitely not since I’ll wish people I hardly know anymore a happy birthday. It’s depressing. I totally know what you mean in terms of illness/health issues and seeing who real friends are, not ones that just send a sporadic ‘thinking of you’ on Facebook. Can you not even send me a private email or text? Feels so showy in a way that’s not sincere a lot of the time. It’s unfortunate that sickness or dealing with your bad ski injury has to teach us this but it’s an important reminder. Really loved what you shared, P. Thank you so, so much.

    • http://twitter.com/AvgGirlsGuide The Avg Girl Guide

      Medical issues totally bring this to light. That and birthdays. So glad you’ve seen people who are there for you in real, non-superficial ways. If someone only comments on FB so everyone can see, is that real?! It’s so much more sincere in my opinion to even get a text than a FB comment to publicly display interest in a person. So glad that while you’re dealing with a pretty crappy/frustrating situation, you’ve at least walked away with a really valuable lesson. You’re the best!!xoxo

  • http://twitter.com/uptownblacktop Kate

    Love, love this post. So true and so sincere!
    Kate {of} UptownBlacktop.com

    • Alyson

      Thank you, Kate! Really appreciate you reading.

    • http://twitter.com/AvgGirlsGuide The Avg Girl Guide

      thank you, Kate. So glad you stopped by. :)

  • http://www.fantabulouslyfrugal.com/ FantabulouslyFrugal.com

    Great post! As a blogger, this is something I grapple with a lot. While I love blogging, I had to put some hard and fast rules into place about how much I’m willing to share about myself via social media. This means I’m not the most successful blogger when it comes to things like Twitter and Instagram, but it’s more important to me to have some aspects of my life be private. (Also, I did a facebook purge about 2 years ago and it was fantastic!)

    • Alyson

      I’m really impressed Lisa that you consciously made that decision. It’s a tough one as we bloggers are always finding/considering new ways to connect with our readers but finding a balance that’s logical for each of us is important. And congrats on your FB purge. I’m now motivated to eliminate more. :)

    • http://twitter.com/AvgGirlsGuide The Avg Girl Guide

      That’s so amazing that you realized it’s worth the compromise in order to keep your life private. Many people, bloggers and otherwise, don’t get there.

  • Erika Batista

    Great read. I feel this way on a daily. Especially with Instagram, it is a bad obsession. It’s the first thing I pick up in the morning as if it was the newspaper. I love blogging about fashion and promoting my jewelry but it is exhausting but to find a middle ground is really difficult. The first steps I took was to stop uploading pics of everything I do with my family on my personal fb page, those are MY memories. For the photobooks at home. And it feels great to not have everyone (though I keep a very small circle of friends on fb) know my business.

    As far as Instagram, it is 85% business for me. I rarely put pics of my son and I feel quiet guilty sometimes because I say to myself, do people think I am self-consumed that all pics are just me? I mean it is a fashion blog, will they think I am a narcissist? that doesn’t even post pics of her family? And then I remind myself that I DONT CARE what people “think”. And I am protecting my private family time in a way and making those MY memories. Special ones.

    Thanks for sharing! I loved this one and glad I am not along ;) xo
    Erika

    http://www.lolabluethecloset.blogspot.com
    http://www.lolabluethecloset.com

    • http://twitter.com/AvgGirlsGuide The Avg Girl Guide

      Totally hear ya! I check instagram, twitter and FB before I check the news; not good. And, I agree about putting up photos of yourself but as long as that’s aligned with your business and general goals than it’s logical. Go you for recognizing what to share and what to keep private.

  • Sharona

    You are so on point. If we’re not gaining anything from reading social media, then why are we so addicted? It’s a good message to realize what we’re actually reading and how it’s actually compromising other aspects of our lives.

    • http://twitter.com/AvgGirlsGuide The Avg Girl Guide

      Yes! Exactly… I’m reading about friends and people are hardly know but getting nothing out of it, and certainly not getting any smarter or more connected to anyone.

  • http://twitter.com/BonBonRoseGirls Kristin & Megan

    Social media is a necessity for the career path I’ve chosen, but I try to never let it replace the IRL relationships that keep me going and are so important to me. We try to have “unplugged” family days, so we’re truly focusing only on our quality time and not outside distractions. Great post A!

    • http://twitter.com/AvgGirlsGuide The Avg Girl Guide

      Love unplugged family days!!

  • http://www.bestofbklyn.com/ bestofbklyn

    Oh my goodness, I couldn’t agree with everything you said more. Since I do social media for my job, too, I can’t get rid of it completely, but my husband and I have recently started “unplugging” for an hour at night together, and I’m already really enjoying that time.

    • http://twitter.com/AvgGirlsGuide The Avg Girl Guide

      Love the idea of even just an unplugged hour. I told my husband we need to start doing this, and it includes his ipad mini addiction. :)

  • Grace – Stripes & Sequins

    This was an excellent post, Alyson. I feel this way very frequently… especially working full-time in social media and part-time on my blog. It’s overwhelming.

    I’ve found that for me, the key has been to just make a very conscious decision of when I will look at my phone and when it gets tucked away. On the weekends I’ve taken to leaving it at home or in the other room when I’m doing things, at dinner it goes in the purse – not on the table. The other side to the story is that I am super focused on building my brand, so I need to take those instagrams, set aside 15-20 minutes on weekends to pin, and find the time a few times a day to reply to tweets. That said, I am rarely on Facebook. I go on, post what I need to, and get out!!!

    Finding a balance is hard – but yes, you need to live for yourself. I think setting strict social media “hours” for yourself, putting the phone away, telling loved ones the importance of the few things that you really actually NEED to do on there, and putting up your posts and then just letting them be (not checking in to see who liked them, who commented, etc.) is the key. At least for me!

    • http://twitter.com/AvgGirlsGuide The Avg Girl Guide

      Really took a lot out of your comment, Grace. I am moving my phone at a greater distance, and focusing on unplugged time with my family and friends. We are in a business that demands some “social” time so I appreciate what you said… I don’t do it in a focused/structured enough way. I need to take 10 solid minutes one or two times each day instead of mindlessly checking a million times without getting anything out of it. And, since your post I’ve spent a lot less time on FB (beyond client posting) and haven’t lost anything, just gained time! If I should know something, I will either find out from a close friend in a real way or will live without the knowledge. THanks for sharing your wise words.

  • Jordan Silverman

    maybe my favorite “vent sesh” post to date. i constantly feel this way – if i am not pinning, instagramming, posting, tweeting, facebooking, that its my OWN fault when i have less followers or fans than i “should have.” but life is more important than being online, and i try to remind myself of that… even when my jealousy threatens to take over because someone is “beating me” on a social media platform! this is a wonderful post and reminder about the improtance of being present.

    • http://twitter.com/AvgGirlsGuide The Avg Girl Guide

      So glad you appreciated this Jordan! Be sure to read the other comments here because there’s a slew of great suggestions, including unplugged days or even an hour, tucking your phone away, and not checking certain platforms as frequently. I’ve been doing this and it’s actually more fun to check less frequently because you can see more action happening! :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/amanda.elliot.750 Amanda Elliot

    If I could “like” this post a million times, I would! This topic is constantly on my mind as I, too, am a social media addict. Thanks to my smart phone and computer at work, I’m never far from a quick Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter (and now Tinder!) check. If you come up with any helpful ways of cutting back, I’d love to hear ‘em! Cheers to being present and mindful of what’s right in front of us :)

    • http://twitter.com/AvgGirlsGuide The Avg Girl Guide

      Amanda: yes, so challenging! Take a few minutes to read the comments here because so many good ideas from a little unplugged time, less frequent checking (in a way that’s meaningful) and more. I’ve been making an active effort to put the phone away or out of hands length and it’s really helped.

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  • Mayra

    So true, I’ve never been a fan of Facebook or twitter, and while I admit I have a facebook page, I am rarely ever on it. I do see how it is addicted though since I have friends and family that are constantly on it. I agree, we have to live for the moment, not to share it or for the want of “likes” but for ourselves and our memories.

    • http://twitter.com/AvgGirlsGuide The Avg Girl Guide

      Exactly, focus on who is in front of us instead of who is commenting on a computer.

  • http://iamchiconthecheap.com/ Lyddiegal

    Social media is a strange beast we’ve created. I rarely check my facebook, but I’d never delete it. I feel pressured to read and respond to tweets from people who I don’t even know, and feel guilty if a day should pass when i haven’t checked my instagram feed – but I can’t even express how little I care about random strangers dark grainy AWFUL LOOKING photos of their food or feet or pets. Or worse, a screen cap of a text message, blog post, or photo that belongs to someone else.

    Now, a good photo is another thing, and when istagram was in it’s infancy, I think people actually tried harder to take quality, creative images. now it’s just like another place that needs a spam filter.

    • http://www.GirlsBestFriendandcoBlog.com/ GirlsBestFriendandCo

      Thats funny Lyddiegal, you and I have different perspectives. You feel pressured to respond to people on twitter? Hmm.. May I asked then why are you on twitter? I always wondered why people had private twitter accounts. Now I know, it is a right fit for people like you. If you want to only engage with people you know personally. You can call them, text them. I don’t see your need for a twitter account. Why befriend people on Facebook that you do respect enough to return a message? I think it is all about the individual. My husband does not do social media at all. Which is fine. If it’s not your thing don’t do it.

      • http://iamchiconthecheap.com/ Lyddiegal

        Honestly, I mostly have the accounts for the sake of the blog. Very few of my actual real-life friends are on twitter, a handful more on instagram. Ever since the new iPhone twitter app started to allow push notifications for tweets I set it up for a couple of people who’s tweets I actually care about reading. I can feel like a good friend who always responds to their tweets and more or less ignore the rest, save for a few minutes a day which I carve out for giving my twitter feed a once over.

        • http://www.GirlsBestFriendandcoBlog.com/ GirlsBestFriendandCo

          Oh yes, after i commented I noticed your blog. Hmm… i guess to each his own. LOL I like talking to people so I don’t mind talking on twitter. Probably more so than I should. Btw I like you style personality cute!

          • http://twitter.com/AvgGirlsGuide The Avg Girl Guide

            Really enjoyed reading both of your back and forth on the topic. I have three twitter handles (blog, personal and pr business). I do it for the sake of visibility, to connect with brands, potential followers, potential clients and to keep up with the news cycle. Interestingly, I’ve actually removed all push notifications so I don’t see it and feel an instant need to check/reply to what someone has said (that only feeds my personal addiction!). I’ve also been checking FB less often because if a real friend has something major going on they should tell me beyond blasting on FB! Really appreciate both of you weighing in… definitely not an easy topic.

  • Kaitlin

    You are totally not alone in this!!! I, too, have considered deleting half of my Facebook friends just because A. I don’t speak to most of them and B. I think most of them are there just to be nosey. Would they even speak to me in public? Probably not. I wake up at 6AM and stay at work until 6PM only to come home, finish any online work that needs to be done, throw in a workout, and try to squeeze as much possible time in with my husband – I don’t want to spend my free time scrolling through my FB feed and seeing negative/racist statuses (because that’s all that has been up lately!) It literally drags you down and people don’t feel the need to be as personable as they need to be. I mean people are actually sending out shower invitations via FB…what?! I mean cmon. I also am guilty of checking IG, Twitter, my FB page, and my Pinterest to see if even ONE tiny little follow or like has happened since the last time I checked it. I’ve definitely started attempting to step back a bit as far as my personal FB – I rarely post anything unless it’s something I just can’t resist posting. I’ve got to make time for those who are in my REAL world, so I totally understand where you’re coming from!!! We can motivate each other!! xoxo

    • http://twitter.com/AvgGirlsGuide The Avg Girl Guide

      Kaitlin: just mentioned to someone else that I stopped checking quite so often and it’s actually way more fun because you’ll often see a few new likes, comments, etc where when I check every second there’s rarely a change and I’m probably wasting time also looking at the same content. I’m moving my phone away, keeping it in another room, and focusing on who is with me… and calling more friends instead of taking time to scroll through a FB news feed of people I don’t care about. Delete friends… it’s SO empowering (I got ride of 57!). xo

  • http://www.facebook.com/andiperullo Andi Perullo de Ledesma

    Giving up social media for lent? I love it!

    • http://twitter.com/AvgGirlsGuide The Avg Girl Guide

      Right?! Genius, I think!

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