Sorry for the lack of blogging – I have just got back from a week of sunning myself in the beautiful Turkey and seriously, a girl has to take some time to relax! So for one week, e-mails, twitter, facebook and my blog was put on hold to just lie back, soak up the sun, and forget the world for seven blissful days.
Before I went on holiday I made the painful decision to cut myself from all social media, internet or any kind of technological communication. An easy decision it seemed, and when I told my boyfriend I got a reply which went a little something like this “pfft.” But I was determined. Who needs twitter when you have a week of relaxing, sight-seeing, tanning and cocktail sipping?!
How wrong I was. Everyday I woke up it was a struggle not to grab my phone the minute my eyes opened and check who was tweeting what, who had posted what on my wall or where people were and what they were doing. How hard it was not to boast all over the internet about how wonderful my holiday was going and post pictures up to make everyone jealous. And when my boyfriend looked at me and said “Look at that view out there, you’d rather wake up and check facebook then walk onto the balcony and admire the beautiful sea and the mountains?” And that’s when I realised, is social media making us less social?
That’s when I started noticing. Couples at dinner both on their mobile phones, people by the side of the pool furiously tapping away at their phones. I looked around me incredulously, is this really what it has come too? Even my own boyfriend, the one who had doubted me, was face booking away next to me. Your in a foreign country, a place where your meant to breathe in the culture, experience new sights and sounds, colours and textures – explore ruins and deep blue seas, yet all we want to do is sit by the pool and tweet about sitting by the pool.
What do you think of when you think of social media? A revolution that allows us to expand our communication to new audiences, open new doors and build new relationships. But what if, actually, it is doing the complete opposite? What if our increased communication online means less communication offline? Are real life relationships suffering because of ‘online’ relationships?
Don’t get me wrong, social media has been one of the biggest catalysts in the development of my career in PR and has got me talking to people I would have never had the opportunity too before. It is a huge opportunity for anyone in any industry, and I would never discourage anyone from using it to build up their career. But how can we use it more sensibly? How can we ensure that our friends, family, relationships and real social lives do not suffer?
Time Management: Make sure you make the decision and take time out of your day to say ‘I’m not going to look at facebook or twitter for an hour. Use that time to do things which need to be done, clear up, do an assignment, pay a bill, have a chat with your mum. Taking this time out of your day allows for normality, and getting things which need doing, done. I’m not saying we are all robots, but we are all guilty (especially fellow uni students with assignment deadlines) of going on facebook instead of facing that essay.
Choose your platforms: What do you actually want to use social media for? Is it too kick-start your career, get your name out there and start to build your brand? Then well done. This is a fantastic use of social media and one that will definitely work! To do this I would suggest Twitter (a professional account), a blog, and your own online portfolio. By choosing the correct platforms you can make sure you are not wasting time with writing facebook statuses which might give you a bad reputation anyway! Blogging is a great way to practise your writing skills too, so your actually learning something in the process!
Be aware and find a healthy balance: Be aware of the amount of time your spending online, and what may be suffering because of it. Is there an assignment that’s not getting finished? Might that be because your too busy on facebook? If this is true, don’t let it happen. Nothing is more important than what is going in the outside world, and don’t let your life or university degree suffer for it! Disable facebook during a critical exam or assignment time and be strong! There is nothing wrong with social media and being online, I would be a hypocrite to say their was, but the secret is to find a healthy balance through time management and organisation.
I’d love to hear what people have to think about this – I’m sure some will agree and disagree, or any tips you may have to add.