I am addicted to Social Media.
I do not know what it is about social media (for me- Facebook and Twitter) that causes such a draw. I do not know why there is a desire to sit and read about the lives of several hundred of my “friends” (I use that term loosely since many of them I have not spoken to since high school) and what they are doing today.
I do not know what it is that makes me keep checking for any new notifications- to see if someone had “liked” that one particular witty/snarky/funny/sarcastic comment that I posted. Or to see if someone has commented on the link/status/picture that I posted.
But I do.
And it has to change.
I think that part of it is that I am almost able to create a alter identity on Facebook. I can create a Kris that is funny, witty, etc without exposing many of the faults that I truly have. A friend of mine, Jason Brooks, wrote a post on his blog back in December about walking away from Facebook for a little while. Many of the reasons that he decided to walk away for a little while are true in my own life. I have created an idol in Facebook, and I have spent more hours than I would like to know on there.
I do not want you to hear me saying that Facebook or Twitter (or any other social media) are bad things, but that they can become bad things if you allow them to reign unchecked in your life. A friend of mine who went to my home church in Chipley, Florida (First Baptist Chipley) and is now a Pastor at a church in Missouri wrote an extremely helpful post about managing social media.
In his post Micah wrote some extremely helpful advice on managing social media, but I think that heart of it was covered in this point about real people coming first:
Real people come first.
By this I don’t mean that people online are not real people. I do, however, think that face to face interaction with people will always trump every other method of communication. So, when face to face, dump the social media. No checking up on your status, looking for replies or “likes”, no updating the latest bit of news, while you are conversing with others. I’ll admit, I often fail at this. Social media should always be a means to enhancing and/or fostering relationships with people that are physically present around you. Don’t sacrifice that, then, for the sake of your online presence.
You can head over to Micah’s website and read the rest of this post (and many other great ones) by clicking this link.
In my life I have already made changes to be the one in control of social media. Here are a couple of them:
1) Eliminated the notifications.
I turned off all notifications to my phone from Facebook. I was notorious about stopping in the middle of a conversation with my wife or kids to check and see what it was that was causing my phone to alert. It is sad, but it is true. I am sure Brandi could tell you countless stories about me stopping mid sentence to check my phone. So I turned them all off. So if you need to get up with me about something and need a quick response you would be better off not writing on my Facebook timeline- just call me.
2) Created “lists”.
One of the beneficial changes that Facebook made after the arrival of Google+ was to allow you to separate your friends into different lists. This has been a huge benefit for me to control the amount of time I spend on Facebook. I currently have over 650 friends on Facebook, and I did not want to simply go through and delete everyone that I do not talk to. However, I do not need to keep up with the lives of 650 people. Therefore I created a list of my closest friends- those that I am close to, and interested in seeing everything they post. By only viewing this list (and occassionally a few other lists that I created) it has dramatically reduced the time I could spend on Facebook, because there are fewer “new” things to read.
3) Curtailed checking Facebook.
Simply put, I just do not open up my Facebook app on my phone as much. I also do not keep Facebook open in a browser tab on my computer. If it is open I will be constantly checking it, instead of working on whatever it is I am needing to work on. I have been amazed at the end of some days where I have been working on my computer just how little I have managed to get done because I kept checking Facebook. If my kids are around I will not get on. When they are older it will not matter that their Daddy had a status update that garnered 150 comments, but it will matter if their Daddy considered them to be worthy of stopping everything else to give them his undivided attention.
Facebook and Twitter are wonderful tools. To share the Gospel, to teach, to learn new information, to find old friends, to stay in touch with both new friends and old (no matter how far apart you live). However they must be managed properly.
I have determined that I will control my social media. Social media will not control me.