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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18 thoughts on “Social Media- Friend or Foe?

  1. Your post almost identically mirrors how I feel about blogging too Ratna! Maybe because we’ve been at it for about the same amount of time? I sometimes feel overwhelmed with the obligation to post something in the chaos of work, sports, school events etc – but it is more because I LIKE the blogging and tweeting and engaging with fabulous women like you and feel torn when I don’t have enough time to do it as well as I’d like.

    Blogging is just for me and that is rare in my life so I treasure it. At the same time, everything in my life that is just for me gets put on the back burner when faced with kids, spouse, paid work etc. and blogging gets shoved aside its fair share too. I have found that disconnecting for a weekend here and there and having no phone/computer designated nights at home helps – but it is still yet another something to add to the juggling act! 😉

    1. Daria- as my parents are in town and they are a rowdy bunch I am using social media as an escape and a venting board and it has worked. It has saved my marriage- having parents in town is hard…. but yes, when they are not here, social media is a time suck.

  2. Blogging and FB/Twitter have been exactly what I needed while my kids are small.

    I’m sure once they are in school….I’ll have so much less time for it.

    Right now, it’s fun, support and i love all of it!

    1. I love the support too…. in fact, Connie, I just wrote a response to Daria – when parents are in town and high-stress times, I love it as an escape too and venting too. Haaa… thanks for the comment. I think you will have more time for it when they are in school. When they are young, seems they have more needs. I may be wrong.

  3. Great post & comments! Terrific question, social media ‘is it your friend or foe?’ I liken it to much in my life – both. For example, for me, food is both. Family is both. Same with career.

    Having said that, I credit my online activity (most especially twitter and LinkedIn) for helping me adapt to a move across country. For the first time in my life, I was without the fabulous support system of my extended family & friends. I knew no one in my chosen profession, and this was hauntingly bizarre, as I was rather used to being on or the news just about every day of the week. I could pick up the phone and connect, request just about anything from anyone. A far cry from where I was 5 years ago when I moved.

    Enter twitter and LinkedIn. I almost gave up on the little bird on many occasions early on, I’d say I didn’t really see the benefit until six months or more of my time investment. Today, thankfully, I have good friends, clients, colleagues as neighbors near & far (again). Slowly, I’ve taken twitter relationships to the next level on FB and professionally on LinkedIn. I now earn a paycheck from the comfort of my home office helping others navigate their ownline presence.

    Back to the friend or foe. Time. 🙂 But it is what you make it. And I’m thankful.

    1. Thank you Rajean for that insight– true true true. It is a hobby for me and not a money-making venture- thank goodness. Or I would be more stressed out- Ha! 🙂 I love that we can move at our own pace as well. Thanks for the comment

  4. Ahem, ok, so I’m going to be the weird one here and say I really haven’t found much downside. Helped by the fact that nothing I’ve done is very controversial (however, I did have my throat jumped down at an inaccuracy once).
    I was MORE afraid of taking my internet public in person – when I first hooked up with the Mile Hi Mamas – the expectations I might be judged or be a “poser” was probably my biggest worry, but I have found the group encouraging and welcoming.
    sorry – no downside here! GRIN!

  5. For me, blogging is still a fun hobby. It has nothing to do with money for me, as I do not have ads or accept ads at my home blog. I’m not an affiliate. I am not beholden to anyone. I’ve been doing it for nearly 7 years. And it isn’t as if I haven’t been asked. I get asked to run ads, asked what my rates are, etc.

    Therefore, I feel no pressure at all regarding Lifenut. It is what it is. I can talk about whatever I want without worrying an advertiser or sponsor approves or disapproves. Plus, I don’t like peddling Stove Top stuffing or whatever to people who are kind enough to pop over. And if I don’t feel like blogging for two weeks, I don’t.

    I joined Facebook because I was tired of turning down my mother’s requests to be my friend, asking me to join constantly. I like it more than I thought I would.

    I joined Twitter because I felt like people were abandoning blogging in favor of Twittering. I see it happening more and more. FB and Twitter are killing blogging as it used to be.

    I don’t do Pintrest because I don’t need another time suck. It looks so very beautiful and intriguing and addicting. I am saying no for now.

    I’ve said a big fat yes to Instagram and Hipstamatic. Love those apps and the social aspect. Instagram is like visual Twitter.

    I LOVE most of the people I’ve met through social media. I am sort of a curmudgeon about the whole thing, but I am so very grateful for the people and experiences it has brought into my life.

      1. Haaa… I am feeling pressure- sorry- its not you at all girlie- It’s self imposed. As JoAnn- she may not think so but I am quite Type – A and that means self imposition of Type A behaviors including the stress that goes with it. Haaa… But I remain calm… on the outside. I feel inherent pressure to do the best I can and again, self-imposed. Seinfeld reference – “It’s not you… It’s me!” ha

  6. When I started my blog, I was completely anonymous. I never typed anything googleable about my name, location, etc. There were no photos of me. (This is how we started doing the shadow portraits.) It wasn’t until a reader noticed where the IP address was located when I commented on her blog that anyone ever knew where I was.

    Why all the secrecy? In college, I had a stalker of sorts (if you can rank them, he was pretty mild, but still enough to scare me to death.) In a matter of moments, he’d figured out who I was in real life from something seemingly innocent that I’d posted online (this was in the 90s, so you can imagine how little info there was out there!), and he’d figured out where I lived, who I was, and had attempted to contact me in person.

    From that point on, I assumed that anyone and everyone would read what I’d written, and was in essence, out to get me, and I went into lockdown mode.

    Fast forward to now. Like I said, when I started the blog, I was completely anonymous, knowing you can’t un-ring any bells. As my writing gained popularity and I was picked up by Mile High Mamas, I let the veil drop. People know what I look like, what my daughter looks like, but I don’t blog about my husband. There are certain boundaries I respect, and it works for us. I’d wanted to be “out” eventually, but I wanted to be sure I did it in my own time.

    I have two Facebook accounts, one as my public persona and one as me. I only have one twitter account, because I was “out” when I started that. I’m very, very, very cautious what I say online about politics and religion, because I don’t want to offend anyone (even though so many around me have no problems stomping on MY toes).

    For me, social media is a friend. It’s relatively easy to ignore the foes. Now, if we only had an app for dealing with relatives the same way. 😉

    1. OMG- that is scary, JoAnn- thanks for sharing that but wow… that would have kept me from any public things. I am so proud of you for putting that behind you and thank you for introducing me to this wonderful world and the especially all the wonderful women I have met. That is a great thing to do, JoAnn – to respect your husband’s privacy. Thanks for the comment, my friend 🙂

  7. Yes — friend AND foe.

    I have 2 blogs and one each of Twitter and FB. But to be honest, I probably spend more time reading other blogs I follow and leaving comments on them than I do on my own stuff.

    Social Media has brought a lot of wonderful people into my life. Ahem (I’m looking at YOU).

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