Imagine if you were using a chainsaw to take down some overgrown branches on the trees in your yard. You’d use the chainsaw for the task at hand, and then you’d go put it away. You wouldn’t just leave the chainsaw out so you could rev it up anytime you’re bored. And you wouldn’t go get the chainsaw out and play with it because you can’t sleep at night. Though if you did do these things, it would make a good plot for a creepy murder movie.
My point is, in other areas of your life you use tools for what they are designed for and then you go put them away until you need them again.
The problem with social media is that it’s cleverly made you believe it can be a tool for solving all your problems.
Is Social Media A Tool?
This year was my third social media hiatus and much of what I learned in the first two years remained true this year as well. But this was by far the busiest hiatus I’ve ever taken, and it clarified a new thought for me about social media. In a day, a week, a month, when you need to get a lot of things done that are time-sensitive, you don’t have the luxury to be messing around with things that don’t net you significant benefit towards your end goal.
Now, this is not some “take no breaks” drum I’m beating, it’s the reality of the beast when you’re on deadline for both your job and with Nature (fyi, she doesn’t wait). So if I’m going to spend my time using various tools to do my job and life projects, those tools better be good at doing what they’re meant to do.
Social media is like a cheap multi-tool. It does many things but it doesn’t really do any of them well.
Case in point, as a business owner I can use social media to promote the work I do that is helpful to others. But only to 0.2% of those who already liked my page, unless I’d like to pay $15 to promote my post to another 5% of the people who already liked my page. Don’t even ask about how much I could pay to get my post to the rest of the people who, again, already liked my page. This is not a complaint, it’s just a statement of facts.
Personally, I could use social media to find information. But if the post that contained the information wasn’t recent, I will have to scroll through god knows how many little squares to try and find the one that has the information I need. No thanks, I value my web search skills more than I value the time it would take to scroll that far.
How I’m Using Social Media This Year
There are other ways you could use social media, but I still don’t think any of them are all that good. And thus, I’ve come to the realization that, for me, social media is for broadcasting out education and insights, and for rolodex-ing people and companies I want to remember.
As a business owner, I can use it as a broadcast channel to share information and tips that might inspire someone to look into my programs and teachings and let the chips fall where they may in terms of a potential customer seeing it. The algorithm gods decide what gets shown to whom anyways, so I can just do my part to broadcast the content. After that, it’s out of my hands.
Personally, I do find value from social media in ‘following’ a person or company, not so that I can keep up with them regularly as I just don’t have the bandwidth or interest for that. But, when the time comes when I am thinking about buying a new grill, for example, all my brain has to do is think, “didn’t we follow someone on instagram that sells grills?” And I can go to my following list and scroll through it to find the grill seller. Then it’s a quick and easy click on their website from there and I’m in the place I need to be to take the next step in my grill buying journey.
Or, if I meet someone at an event who was interesting and I want to remember for future reference, in the past we would have exchanged business cards or swapped numbers. I rarely meet people who have business cards anymore, and I have no interest in sharing my phone number with more people. So following them on social media is like having a rolodex, though not as cool as being able to spin an actual rolodex and pull out a person’s name card.
I wouldn’t have uncovered this insight if I’d just kept on using social media without any sort of break. It takes that breaking of routine to get some scope around what social media is to you, and how you think you can use it to most effectively support your life and well-being.
I also believe that once you gain insights about how social media does and doesn’t work for you, you’ll need to be intentional about building tactics that support the insights you’ve uncovered. It’s a bit like once you realize how valuable strength training is for you, you can’t just hope you’ll get it done each week. You need to set a schedule or build some kind of routine that ensures you tick the box.
For me, the tactics include the following: all my social apps are now grouped on the last page of my phone, under a category called “Time Wasters”. I’ve used the “mute” feature on instagram to make my feed completely uninteresting to scroll. And I’ve started using a website that posts your posts without you having to go into the app itself.
Social media is not a good tool, but if you’re going to use it as a tool, get crystal clear with how you’re going to use it. Remember, no revving up the chainsaw just because you’re bored.
Now, if you read my earlier post to kick off the social media hiatus, you know that I offered a free Unbreakable Body program to one random person who commented on that post and then this post. So I’d love to hear from you, if you joined me for hiatus, leave a comment with what you did during this time!
And if you’re just now hearing about the idea of a social media hiatus, leave a comment telling me if you think this would be a good thing for you to do and why.
Lastly, if you’re new to the idea of a social media hiatus, I strongly recommend you read my article Why I Take A Social Media Hiatus Each Year (& Why You Might Want To, Too) You’ll be surprised at what you uncover if you take a good full-frontal look at your social media usage.