Social Media- Friend or Foe?

End of May Update: May has turned out to be an ugly month- what with a minor fender bender, nothing that goes right, crazy, annoying co-worker who has no sense, and lots of family in town – anyone can go crazy.  So, I have a caveat to this post that I started writing in April when my life was full of just my kids, life, and work.  Social media is and can be my best friend.  It is the only place where I have a sense of control, where I get to be creative, and where I get an outlet from this crazy world.  Granted, it’s still overwhelming but I learned something new- I get to control what I engage in and which buttons to click and what to read.  Wow!  When the world around me is spinning out of control and I have no control at work or at home, social media provides me a creative solace. Ahhhh!

Only recently, about 8 or 9 months ago, did I get sucked into the blogging world and all that came with that.  I am not sad I got “sucked” into this world because I have met some great people and also been able to stay in touch others I would otherwise not be able to stay in touch with.  But, with technology comes all the trials and tribulations associated with social media overload.  For example, I am connected 24-7.   This means, I am constantly in touch with people if I choose to look on my iphone or on my computer.  It is a huge investment of time – more than I probably give anything else in my life which of course, makes me sad.  In fact, it took me two weeks to write this post and over three weeks to write and prepare the previous one on Top 30 Must Haves for First-Time parents.  Great information but time consuming to write and even more time consuming to share out but once it is done, it feels rewarding especially when you get comments or likes.

In any case, writing a blog on my own domain, tweeting (which I never did before getting into this bloggy world), and two accounts and a page (getcluedin) on facebook later, I feel overwhelmed by social media.  On most days, I have my full-time job, my other full-time job of being a mom, a part-time job, and now social media has become a job to me as well – instead of a hobby or just for fun, I feel like social media has become a tasker and another job in this already busyworld of mine.  Additionally, I have had some social experiences as a result of my new hobby- all reasons which lead me to write this post.  Friend or foe? I will let you decide but for me, social media and networking can be more of a foe than friend especially these days when things are so busy at work and in life as well.

Friend?  Here are some advantages to social media and these fall into the “friend” category:

  1. Blogging- Blogging for me is a fun, creative outlet- all social media really is an escape to reality. Creative writing is fun and my blog is an expression of me.  I am lucky, I have only one blog to invest my time in- Get Clued In! 
  2. Facebook- Without facebook, I would not be in touch with so many friends and family members across the globe.  It’s so easy to share pictures, stories, and never miss a beat of those I care about.  Some may criticize facebook for its lack of privacy but my privacy settings are pretty solid.  I am not publicly searchable to the world.  More importantly, those who I want to see my business get to see it.  Those I do not, may still be my friend but get limited access.  I control who I let in and at what level.  This is much better than twitter in my opinion.   In my profession, and today’s world, I cannot be an open book to everyone. 
  3. I created a separate persona on facebook recently which is another advantage- this is for my blogging audience and blogging friends only and so I keep my personal and family life separate from this one.  I also created a page on facebook for Get Clued In!  This way, I was able to place a widget on Get Clued In so readers can see that page and friend me as Get Clued In through networked blogs.  So, again, Facebook is my friend for simplifying things a bit and helping me keep my persona separate from the real me.
  4. Twitter- For me, twitter is more foe than friend still.  I only started tweeting last fall because I felt I had to – to get into the blogging world and my readers can stay in touch with me.  I use twitter to stay in touch with my local mommy and blogging friends and to advertise my postings on my blog which often get re-tweeted- this increases my reading audience.  This is the friend side of twitter. 

Foe?  Here are some things that I consider the disadvantages to social media and for me, reasons to perhaps cut back or try to figure out a schedule of use.

  1. Social media feels like a job instead of a fun hobby- Blogging has its hazards.  Well, for one, I am up writing this at midnite when I should be sleeping.  When I was initally blogging just for fun, it was just that- fun!  It was a safe, creative outlet and I did not get much traffic.   When I was doing this for fun, I could blog when I wanted and about whatever I wanted.  No one really saw it so it did not matter.  Now, ideally, I should post something once a week and if I am guest blogging like I do at Denverparent and its Financial Friday series, I may be a regular and need to come up with more- the pressure is on! I have to remind myself that time is not the enemy, but rather my choice of doing too much.  So, if a week goes by without a posting, I have to just let it go and forgive myself but it is tough and again, it has become more of a job than a hobby which is a huge negative to me! ps.  This post took me over 2 weeks to write!  Ugh
  2. The need for self-sensorship- Dangers of blogging these days is not just the threat of lawsuit, copyright infringement, etc., (see Disclaimer) but recently as I learned, it can cut even deeper.  Feelings can be hurt and offense can be taken by the expressions on your blog or other social media so, now that I am writing openly, I have to be more careful and therefore, self-censorship is necessary … again, this cuts into the “fun” of the whole experience but is an important lesson as well. 
  3. Facebook and social media can be an invasion of privacy.  Enough said on this one and it’s not just the medium (ie. facebook and twitter) but the blog as well.  Everything is out there for the world to see and shared, and your life can seem like an open book.  If you are a private person, social media and blogging may not be right for you or could bring stress and angst to your life.   Another issue for me is that I tend to keep all the facets of my life separate or compartmentalized.  I have compartments for everything, and if I feel that worlds are colliding or unnecessarily infringing on another aspect of my life, that to me is an invasion of privacy. 
  4. Tone is very important on social media.  In addition to censorship, tone is also important as well because something on your wall can cause issues with someone you were friends with over 20 years ago.  But in the same vein, especially on twitter where you are limited with words and characters, you cannot explain yourself and tone plays a role here too.  Unlike face-to-face interaction, social media takes something away and it is harder to explain yourself or get to truly know someone or even get to know them.  Social media and E-mail should never substitute for a face to face conversation or telephone call.  This whole issue can cause stress and anxiety and again make social media feel more like a foe than a friend (see #2 through 4).
  5. Twitter is also time consuming.  I want to interact more and more on social media because of the wonderful people I met but again time is a problem and finding time to do it all.  I do think Hootsuite(R) has made it easier to see all my social media on one page or one website but it is still tough.  there is always some forum or some twitter party going on but I cannot do much of it at all.  When I do, I feel guilty for not spending time with the kids because I do not see them much as it is.

Overall, I love that we are all connected and how quickly we can all get information but for me, with so much, it can be overwhelming and I need to refocus myself.  I have to focus and prioritize daily.  With two jobs outside the home, my family including young kids, and all the things I try to do socially and now on social media, I feel finding balance is the key.   For now, social media is a foe because I feel like I am not balancing anything well but who knows?  Ask me tomorrow- I may feel better about things and then it’s a friend.  ha! 

What do you think?  How many email accounts and blogs do you operate?  How do you find balance?  Please help and leave us a comment to let us know.

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