Social Media Hangover?

Last month, Arianna Huffington was caught red-handed typing on her Blackberry during the Nanette Lepore Fall 2012 fashion show in New York. (Read her entertaining take on missing history because of her Blackberry addiction here).

I read an article yesterday about the cost of ‘free’ social media. No, we don’t pay money to use Twitter, Facebook and co…but we pay with our time. Depending on what your passions are, you may spend a lot of time discussing them on Twitter, writing about them on your blog, raising awareness about them with your friends on Facebook.

Social media is great. I LOVE social media. It is through social media that I have been made aware of a lot of issues I am now passionate about; connected with people I am honoured to know; been given a platform for some of my activism. It is also through social media that I have been given a lot of ‘real-life opportunities’ to do things I have loved. I also enjoy a good look through my friends’ Facebook holiday photos. But if it’s “on” all the time, I wonder if we pay for it with more than our time. A lot of my work is done through a screen…and I think I tasted the cost a little recently: extra tiredeness, “brain strain”, addiction, difficulty ‘switching off’ and dare I say it, feeling overwhelmed at being ‘available’ 24/7. So I’m having to learn to turn my computer off at a set time in the evening because I know there is always more to be done, more emails to reply to, more articles to write, more people to connect with. I’m having limited screen time weekends. I’m learning that I don’t need to be everything to everyone all the time. I’m learning to prioritise (ironically, through a real-life, paper diary!).

Our generation is the first to be exposed so much to social media. Almost all of us use Facebook and/or Twitter and/or Google+ and/or blogging sites for personal and professional purposes. Some of us make jobs out of social media. Internet connections are getting faster and smartphones are getting cheaper. These are fantastic resources. But we’re the first generation to have to balance these things so that we don’t lose touch of ‘real life’. So that we don’t kill ourselves with no sleep. So that we don’t become overwhelmed by what we are constantly reading about. So that we don’t forget we don’t say “lol” in real life, talk in 140 characters or less or give people post-it notes with “like” on them. So that we don’t burn out every 2 weeks.

The term “social media hangover” is increasingly being thrown about. What are the symptoms you have known? How do you fight them? Let me know. Seriously. I love connecting with you over Twitter/Facebook/Wordpress. (Only until 11pm though, ahem.)

(Photo from The Huffington Post.)

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