18 July 2014

Simple Life: On Social Media

Screencap from my tumblr page

Like most people today, I use a lot of social media sites. These can take up a lot of time with constant checking on the phone, instead of enjoying the moment. I have pared down with simple tricks: turn off push notifications, put the phone away when I'm with people etc., but also by selecting which ones really add value to my life. Here is my simple approach to social media, if it can help.

I have decided to use social sites as tools to simplify my life, as opposed to getting sucked into them, or banning them altogether. Again, I guess it is a moderate approach to the subject. In order to avoid  feeling drowned by social media sites, I identify exactly why I am on it, what use I have of it, and remove the non essential.

Each social media has its advantages, and can be great tools, if you adapt them to your preferences. But you first have to decide what you want to get out of it. My philosophy is, if it doesn't bring anything to your life, apart from negative comparison and other constraints, then unsubscribe.

Here are, as a very concrete example, a few of my social media pages and what they are for:

Twitter - I have stopped getting news feed from there, as there are too many updates by the minute. Now, I follow "individuals" who post much less often. As to how I update my own twitter feed, that's where I share my favourite articles, videos, sites. A sort of live feed version of the "Food for Thoughts" posts.

Tumblr - The online moodbard! I "curate" and reblog images I like. The idea is to gather pictures that inspire me in some way, then shuffle my tumblr archives when in need of inspiration or mood.

Instagram - I use instagram as a way to snap an ordinary moment I'm enjoying. As a way to remind myself to stay here, in that moment, and be grateful for it. I take a quick snap and go back to it. So, mostly pictures of my everyday life - food, nice finds, things that make me laugh or think...

Goodreads - As a book lover, I couldn't ignore Goodreads once I was made aware of its existence. I regularly update my reading progress - because the "reading challenge" motivates me to keep reading every day, but also to enter my favourite reads so the site can recommend me some new reads when I'm short of inspiration for my to-read list.


I have a couple more social pages that I use, but more to "be there": Google +, a page that Google created for me when they launched their social site, but which I quite fail to update (that would be too many sites to update), Linkedin, as an online resume which is used quite a lot in my field of work, to keep in touch with former colleagues and "be on the market" for new job opportunities. Facebook, as a worldwide contact book of all the people I met and liked over the world. I also used to have a Polyvore account but I finally found it too annoying to update, and too commercial, so I abandoned it.

In any case, my social updates are quite sporadic, and I have decided not to keep up with the various feeds to break free from the infamous "FOMO". The mindset behind my social media use is to use the service to my convenience, instead of being sucked by the streams of information and expectations to keep up to.

This is a similar mindset as to how I use objects around me, in a way: it has to be convenient, practical, make my life easier or more enjoyable. If it doesn't, out it goes. How do you use social media? Did you simplify your pages and streams lately?

19 comments:

  1. I did a major social media rethink a few months back as well. Most importantly I turned off ALL lock screen/pop-up notifications on my iPhone, so that I have to actually choose to check for updates instead of just blindly reacting to a beep or a notification. I kicked Polyvore to the curb (although the account is still there), I hardly ever update Facebook anymore, and my Pinterest activity has slowed down to a crawl. I scroll through my tumblr feed once a day and reblog what I like. I use the Facebook Messenger app to keep in touch with friends, and use Instagram as my mini blog. I'm on snapchat, but really should uninstall it, as 90% of what I receive there is pointless. I use twitter sparingly, and LinkedIn is where I keep my online business presence.

    I do get way more distracted by social media than I like to admit, though. I'm currently training myself to avoid social media multi-tasking while watching TV or movies. It's such a pointless distraction.

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    1. Oh I have turned off those push notifications as well. I hate when my phone is pinging all the time and breaking my concentration or taking me off the moment, whatever I am doing. Like you, I visit the stuff on my terms, when I decide to check it.

      I have to admit I still have this tendency, like you, mainly because of my phone/iPad, to check social media in the evening in front of a TV series for example, as if I needed to do something with my hands. Last week-end I was at my mother's, and I left the phone in my room, I had a much better evening than usual, actually *watching* the series together, with a cup of tea and all. I still need to work on that. Maybe I'm going to ban the phone and tablet for my couchling area.

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  3. Oh man I love me some polyvore. But I've been using it since the beginning so I'm not aware of it as a social media site. It's a toy to me, and bummed that the app doesnt work on my tablet. That said I don't have Facebook, tumblr, instagram, linkedin, pin whatever, etc... and all that other nonsense. Sometimes I'm tempted to have an instagram but I have a stone age phone that doesnt even text let alone barely makes a phone call, my life is very boring, and I'm not good @ composing pictures.

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    1. Ah it's interesting how you see the service differently when you have been on it for a long time. I can see its advantages, I've used it for a while to my convenience, but at the end of the day, it was too annoying to upload pictures to keep it up with my wardrobe (maybe a sign that I've been buying too much...)

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  4. i never really got the hang of polyvore. the concept seemed so convenient for keeping track of my purchases but collecting the pictures was just annoying. i am back to the good old list^^ i don't post a lot on facebook either and edit my friendslist from time to time. i mainly use it to read online newspapers and get notified on partys from friends. i'm still checking it way too often for my own likeing. i also cleaned out my bloglovin account in the past few days. i noticed that i started again to just bookmark blogs i enjoy like i did in the beginning.
    i also have a tumblr that i use as a moodboard. and i am very addicted to instagram.
    my own blog is more or less dead and i'm not sure yet what i will do with it. somehow knowing that my friends read it made feel restricted and i am no longer sure if a blog is the right format for me. than again i need an outlet for my toughts on clothing, minimalism, sustainability and all that jazz.
    oh and i don't watch tv but can easily spend hours on youtube.
    well even though i did steamline my social media accounts lately i don't feel like it had any impact on the time spent but on the quality of the input.

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    1. I also use tumblr a lot as a moodboard, I really like this simple, collection of pictures blogging format. It's interesting how knowing that your friends know about your blog made you stop updating it. I sometimes wonder if people I actually know read this blog, and how it would make me feel if I know it for sure. I've never made a secret of the existence of the blog to my friends, but I don't think they are much into life simplification. I understand your need for an outlet to express yourself on the subject though, I think that's why I've kept updating the blog for so long. I hope you find a format that works for you!

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  5. Being a little older, I remember the good old days when I could buy some little doodad and not be prodded to review it, link to it, recommend it on facebook, etc. :-)

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    1. Oh I really understand that feeling! I think what I hate most, is being asked to link everything with my facebook account. It's so annoying how everyone wants to have access to our social network data. It kind of makes me want to go silent on facebook. Even though I don't publish much in the first place.

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  6. I deleted a couple of my social media accounts recently. There was too much noise and "aspirational" imagery and not enough value for me. I'm not one for moodboards, so Tumblr and Pinterest just ended up making me feel anxious. I'm happy with posting now and then on Twitter and a little more frequently on Instagram. Short and to-the-point!

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    1. I see what you mean about aspirational images. Even when you know people on social media are only showing the best part of their life, too much exposure leads to feeling inadequate, somehow. These days I'm avoiding facebook because of all these holidays pictures while I'm stuck working in summer :)

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  7. Tumblr and Instagram are most useful for me as a visually-oriented person. I like showing and telling on Instagram and keeping Tumblr a tightly-focused lookbook for the aesthetic I'm currently into which is heavily black, white, and navy, comfortable, and somewhat bare/plain.

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    1. I've seen your tumblr page and it is indeed very specific and focused. It makes a great style moodboard though! I use mine as a more general mood thing, but I admit it is a great tool to get a sense of global aesthetics. Being a very visual oriented person myself, I find it very useful indeed :)

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  8. I think all of us need these periodic cleanses. Like we do wardrobe edits, we need to edit out our hobbies, allocate and re-allocate time, ...... Love your post, i can so relate to it. I identified higher level areas that need this sort of introspection. I need to do something similar with myself too. My post on it: http://touniversewithlove.com/2014/07/05/set-a-new-intention-simplify/

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    1. Yes, I totally agree with you. Even when engaged in a life simplification process over the years, clutter of all sorts tends to creep back in over time, when we are not currently focused on this area of our life. It can be physical clutter at home, but also mental clutter indeed - too many things in our heads at once, too much distraction... I agree that it is important to do regular "cleanses". I've read your blog post and it's very interesting - I have very similar areas I feel I still need to work on - travels, photography, stationary and journaling material, food, and oh, the research on organic and natural beauty products! Sometimes I feel like I want to grow in too many areas at once, it may work better to focus on one theme at a time.

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  9. I completely agree that social media should add value to your life (especially since they take up so much time). Back when I was in college I was an early Facebook adopter. But I mainly used my account to keep in touch with my friends who were on an exchange program. When FB started taking off, I never really got into the whole 'reconnect with ...' thing. As seems the thing with social media, it all became more about presenting some super-interesting version of yourself to as many people that you barely know as possible. I've tried for a little while to go along with this, posting links to interesting articles and funny videos that I found here and there. But since no one actually seemed to look at those things, I had to choose. Whether to become evermore frustrated at the hundreds of likes that acquaintances of mine received for an arty picture of their last sushi meal or - heaven beware - any picture of their children while I felt more invisible by the day, or to stop caring about it alltogether. So I stopped caring. I rather invest time and energy in my real friends that in trying to impress acquaintances. Also I really dislike it when I'm with people and their attention turns to their smartphone so I'm not about to do that to them. I'd love to just delete my FB account, but by now it is so omnipresent that that's really hard. E.g. I'm in a reading group that arranges all their appointments and pre-book discussions in a FB group.
    As for other social media, like you, I find Twitter impossible to stay up-to-date with. LinkedIn I use just to have a 'professional' online presence. Pinterest is my tool of preference right now, although I wouldn't call it very social since I don't use it to connect with friends but only to collect moodboards for fashion and interior decoration.
    I think for me it's all about control. Of course I like keeping in touch with friends, but if they need to reach me fast they can do the old-fashioned thing and call me. For all other things,I like to check in on my own terms: log in on my profile, check my email when I feel like it - and not receive constant 'notifications' that someone somewhere is saying/doing something.
    One last idea: all social media aside, lately I've felt that the most 'social' interaction I'm having online is to be found in the comments section of blogs like this one. It's such fun to post your thoughts on an article and then have someone respond to it (not that you should feel obliged) - and much more meaningful than someone pressing 'like'.

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    1. Ah my story with facebook is quite similar: I joined in 2007 or so when I was in Japan, only to keep in touch with my friends from my exchange programme, and I kind of dropped off when it became a sort of "likes" competition with nice but unimportant pictures and status updates. I'm still keeping my account up because it is a sort of live contact book for all the people I've met and liked.

      I agree with you about the control part - I want to decide when to dedicate time to social media, not be distracted all the time. For urgent matters, people who are important to me know my phone number. I also agree that there is little social interaction after all, on these channels. It sometimes feels like a battle of who will shout the loudest, shine the most, and people are much more focused on themselves than each other. It is true that this kind of "old fashioned" blog and comment section sparks a lot more interesting conversations, at least as far as the blogs I follow are concerned...

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  10. I don't like faceook, don't understand polyvore, am irritated by twits that twitter and haven't herd of instagram or goodreads. My downfall is blogs. I read them 'cover to cover' when I find a new one that resonates with me (as yours does) and I periodically start one myself and then become besotted by stats which in turn makes me spend way more time that I want to online. I've started and deleted a blog in the last few days - I get so annoyed with myself but at times I really want a writing outlet!

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  11. I agree. It is much better and convenient if you work on a social network you’re comfortable with, rather than registering to all of them and have problems with content maintenance. At least, you won’t feel obliged to update them all at once, and it could give you a sense of familiarity with your audience. Thanks for sharing!

    Tommy Crowe @ Next Up Network

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