Social Media Addiction or Generational Bias?

Are we all just addicted to our phones? To information?

I’ve been reading a lot on this topic lately. It started with reading Christina Crook’s The Joy of Missing Out: Finding Balance in a Wired World.

We’re all familiar with FOMO, right? FOMO is fear of missing out. We are on FB and Instagram every moment of every day, because we’re afraid if we’re not, we’ll miss something. Well, JOMO (joy of missing out) is the opposite–it’s taking joy in missing out on the digital world, and re-forming alliances with your “real” life.

social media addiction or generational bias

Larry King recently did a whole episode about how our phones are increasing depression and social media addiction.

And yes, I get it. It seems like everywhere I go, I see people walking, eating, waiting in line, with their heads down in their phones. We never have to be alone anymore. Ever. There’s always someone out there on Facebook or Twitter or Snapchat that we can connect with. That’s a powerful thing.

But the downside? It’s taking us out of the moment. If we spend all of our time taking photos of flowers, do we ever get to actually enjoy the flowers? If we spend our whole time looking down at our phones, when do we look up and see the beautiful sky or the moon? If we eat dinner at a restaurant, and spend the whole time looking at our phones, do we get a chance to make a connection with another human being?

The information, the technology, the end of loneliness–these are all good things. But are we taking it too far? Are our online relationships replacing real-life relationships? Is all that information too much for us to process, causing us to feel overwhelmed? Are all those perfect pretty instagrams making us feel less worthy, and therefore causing depression?

I don’t know. Maybe.

How much of it is “we don’t understand this. We’ve never been here before. So it must be bad, because it’s not how we were brought up.” In other words, generational bias.

How much of it is fearmongering, to make flashy stories for the media that will sell, or even just plain, old fashioned bull shit?

I’m also reading #AskGaryVee: One Entrepreneur’s Take on Leadership, Social Media, and Self-Awareness right now, and there’s a chapter where he talks about parenting:

Worrying that tech will rob them the pleasures of childhood is akin to previous generations worrying their kids will be soft because they have indoor plumbing, or that rock ‘n’ roll will make them degenerates, or that their brains will rot from too much TV. Every generation fears for the next one…

A couple weeks ago, I caught up with some friends that I’d not seen IRL in about a year. We had a great conversation over lunch about all kinds of things. But you know what we didn’t have to talk about? Boring, menial stuff, like what their new home was like, how their jobs were, what grade the kids were in. Because I knew all that already. From Facebook. Furthermore, without the Facebook connection, I may not have even had the guts to connect with them IRL, because I may have let that relationship go so long that I’d be embarrassed to ask them if they wanted to hang out.

Did we take selfies of the moment and photos of our grilled cheeses? Yeah. But we also talked about some pretty deep and interesting things.

So, I guess I fall somewhere in the middle. I love my phone. It’s a fantastic tool. It keeps me in touch with work, friends, and my son. Maybe sometimes I spend too much time on there. But sometimes I don’t. I go for a walk or ride my bike or go to yoga. Sometimes when I’m waiting in line at Costco or drinking a coffee at Starbucks, I do absolutely nothing. Just think. About stuff.

I don’t think it has to be one or the other–a restriction of how much time we spend OR spending all our time on there. There’s a middle ground, and it’s simply about being mindful. For me, where we start to get into trouble is when we mindlessly reach for our phones to distract us instead of dealing with what’s at hand: loneliness, unhappiness, or dissatisfaction. In that case, no, it’s not the right choice. Although social networks can be a source of support for you if you are struggling or going through a crisis.

Okay, enough from me. I could go on all day about this. What about you? Do you think “social media addiction” is a thing? Or just generational bias? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below.

You Can’t Do It All

Recently, Twitter celebrated its 10th birthday. Facebook is 11, YouTube is 10.

Social media is officially a decade old.

When I started  blogging and using social media in 2007, I did all the things. I blogged, I posted on Facebook and Twitter. I had a podcast for a while, and started  YouTube channel. Then came Instagram and Pinterest. I happily joined those and use them on a daily basis.

Social Media you can't do it all

This past year, however, things are starting to spin out of control. Live Video is becoming huge, and Snapchat is starting to take up more and more interest in the popular space.

I’m currently running 3 blogs, 2 YouTube channels, 3 Instagram feeds, 3 Twitter feeds (and overseeing 2 more), I have Snapchat, Vine, Anchor, Periscope, Blab, and am planning to a weekly Facebook Live broadcast.

It’s crazymaking!

Over the last few years, you may have noticed (as I have) that many people are starting to specialize in one particular social media. They will, for example, put all their energy into taking great photos, and building up their Instagram followings. Or they’ll do fun things on Snapchat. Or they’ll build up their YouTube subscribers.

This is the way the world is going, folks. It’s almost impossible for one person to maintain and continuously create content for all these channels, and do it well, even if that is your full time job.

So if you haven’t already, you may want to start thinking about really focusing on one or two social media.

How do you make that decision?

google analytics social aquisition

  1. Where does your traffic come from? Go to your Google Analytics and look at Acquisition. This will show you where your traffic is coming from. You’ll see almost half of my traffic is coming from Facebook–I should probably not give that up. G+ on the other hand? Not much going on there.
  2. What do you love? Choose to focus on a social media that you absolutely love. This way, making content for that channel won’t seem like a chore.
  3. Get scientific: Use this (uber geeky–lots of spreadsheets, yay!) method from BuzzStream: Too Many Channels, Too Little Time: Build a Social Media Strategy that’s Right for You.

Also, don’t forget that if you don’t want to give up a social media entirely, you can use tools like IFTTT  or Hootsuite to create ways of repurposing your content. Just make sure you are indeed repurposing, not just autoposting from one network to another. You have to respect the rules of the individual networks, which means no @mentions and #hashtags on Facebook, making sure your post fits into 140 characters on Twitter, etc.

Another thing that may help you to feel less overwhelmed when it comes to creating and maintaining content is to use a social media calendar. Plan your entire week, or your entire month, and then you just have execute, rather than be scrambling around for content. Here are some good templates from Hootsuite.

How do you manage your feelings of being overwhelmed by all the pressure to “keep up?” I’d love to hear in the comments below.

Breaking Spring

Gentle reader;

The next two weeks here in Vancouver are what’s known as Spring Break. The kids are out of school.

I am not–spring break doesn’t apply to the marketing programs at BCIT or UBC, so I’m actually busier than ever. But I do plan on taking some time off to hang out with my boy.

I am taking a short break from blogging. This is partly because of spring break, but also because, based on some advice from my friend Paul, I’m taking the time this week I’d normally spend on blogging to spend instead on updating one of my books, something I’ve been putting off way too long.

I will be back with fresh content soon. Happy Spring Break!