Mindful Social Media

Mindful Social Media

The longer I participate in Social Media, the more aware I become of the negative impact it has on my time, my energy, and my emotions.

I’ve begun to unfollow those whose posts are consistently religious or political, and the sports fans who post their assessment of every play in the game.  Just eliminating those posts from my feed (but not from my “friends” list) made a difference.

Then I realized that to really live a mindful life, I had to change how and what I post on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

I began by asking myself prior to each post, share, or comment: Would I call my mother, my best friends, and my family members on the phone to share this information?

If the answer is “NO” or even a “Probably Not,” why would I put it out on social media for the world to see? What value would it impart?

If the answer is “YES,” I was OK with posting it with some restraint, such as marking some posts only for family or close friends.

Still, there was something nagging at me.

If the play-by-play sports posts, the religio-political posts and the “my kid just had breakfast and my dog is so cute” posts make me want to cancel all my social media accounts, what sort of reactions are my own posts eliciting from those who follow me?

That’s when I became fully aware that mindful social media was more about how and what I choose to post for others to see than what I choose to see from them, so I dug deeper into the “share” box at the bottom right of the Facebook “what’s on your mind” box:




When I click on the down arrow and on the “more options” option, I come to the “custom” link, which allows me to be very targeted in who can or cannot see a specific post:



If I know certain people will want to see a specific post, add them to the “share this with” list. If I know some who won’t, I put them in the “don’t share this with” box. I can create a group of those I know will appreciate my posts about marketing a small business, my philosophy of life, or my latest book of poetry and fiction.

Yes, I know that asking you to do the same causes you to put in a bit more effort and to exercise some restraint. I also know this is somewhat contrary to the tell-all-to-all culture of social media.

But on the upside, it causes all of us to be mindful of what we share, and in that regard, considerate of the people we call “friends.”  Perhaps we’ll even gain back a bit of the time, energy, or emotional satisfaction we’ve lost in endless, uninspired scrolling.

Mindful Social Media. Will you make it a practice today?

Finding Peace Despite Social Media

I love Facebook. I love the casual interaction with business clients and friends, and keeping up with family in other states and countries. And over the last two years, I’ve made peace with the downside of Social Media – the negative side of the public forum. My father used to remind us, as young adults, that politics and religion were topics to avoid in social settings. Apparently that advice is not universal and mostly forgotten in cyberspace.

In the year before the 2012 presidential election, I was frequently agitated and angry by the increased number of negative political and religious posts on social media, from both sides of the aisle. When I lost sleep for two nights over the level of hatred spewed by one “friend” in particular, I made a commitment to not “like,” “comment,” “share,” or otherwise engage in ANY political or religious posts or discussions online for the rest of the election season.

It brought me joy to just zip past most of the messages on Facebook, and by the end of the election, I had committed to maintain that commitment indefinitely. The last two years have been far less stressful as a result. I have unfriended a few people whose posts are always political, preachy, spiteful and exclusionary. I have focused on connecting with those who are positive, upbeat, expansive, and inclusive. I read posts that uplift, or those asking for real help. I admit that I have broken my rule two or three times in the last two years, but I don’t see that as failure. I see it as learning.

Some days it is hard not to respond, like today when I saw the post about the “Christians” who insulted the Hindu priest invited to give the opening prayer at a session of the U.S. Senate, screaming their own prayers in an attempt to override his voice.  There have been days – and today was one of them – that I typed a response equally as insulting as the post that hooked me.

The Chinese say:  “Fall down seven times, get up eight.”

Thankfully, the “little voice” inside poured a dose of commitment down my throat, which instantly caused me to highlight and delete my words, then forgive myself for the intensity of the response I wanted to send. It feels good. It feels like growth, like peace.

Through Social Media, I’ve learned how reactive I can be, how quick to judge or respond without forethought. By swearing off interaction on two popular Social Media topics, I have settled into a softer, calmer place with a clearer handle on my own life, and the things that really matter to me.


The Dichotomy of Social Media

F. Scott Fitzgerald said, Intelligence is the ability to hold two opposing thoughts in your mind, maintain tension between the two, and be able to function.

Here is the dichotomy of Social Media:

  • Social Media eliminates human contact and thus we, individually and as a people, suffer from isolation.
  • Social Media draws reaction from other humans and thus creates and strengthens our sense of community.

It is true—both are true.

In her book Alone Together, MIT Professor Sherry Turkle says that social media is dumbing down society, creating a society of people that have no idea how to function in a society of people.

Consider the plight of Simone Back, a British woman who posted her impending suicide on Facebook. Her 1,000+ friends held a lively discussion about the appropriateness of her post. One commented: “She ODs all the time and she lies.” None of them tried to contact her directly. Police weren’t notified until someone sent a text message to Simone’s mother 17 hours after her initial message was posted.

Can a Tweet or Facebook post take the place of a hug or a phone call, or save a life?


And Yes.

There is the truth that Social Media draws reaction from other humans and thus creates and strengthens our sense of community.

While I was in treatment for endometrial cancer back in 2009, Social Media kept me sane and in touch with the people and networks I could not physically visit. On the days I spent seven hours in the chemo chair, I posted “chemo day, send me jokes,” and the jokes rolled in all day long, keeping me, the nursing staff, and the six or seven other people attached to IV poles laughing and having a great time, instead of withdrawn and obsessing about the poison coursing through our veins and the proximity of our ultimate demise.

And so Social Media—Tweets and Facebook posts—were my conversations and hugs and kisses for the better part of a year, and played a huge part in saving my life.

It’s been two years since my last day in the chemo chair. I’m beginning to have days in which I no longer associate my life with cancer, days in which I am absorbed in generating business, writing better articles and stories, helping my friends be the best they can be—days in which I actually feel the energy and creativity of the “ME” before I was diagnosed.

I posted the message you see below this paragraph after a recent check-up. In less than 6 hours, there were 85 “Likes” and 57 “Comments.” Since I grabbed the image below, the messages have continued to pour in. Each time my iPhone “dings” to tell me there is yet another response, I smile, pump my fist, and scream, “YES!” as loud as I can.

I am so grateful for the amazing people who surround me, even when I’m not aware that I am in their thoughts as much as they are in mine. I am so grateful that they showed up in force on Facebook yesterday, and reminded me.

Maybe the real isolation inherent in Social Media isn’t isolation from each other. Maybe, for many of us, it is isolation from ourselves—the distance we create between our feelings, hopes, fears, and the community in which we live.

Intelligence is the ability to hold two opposing thoughts in your mind, maintain tension between the two, and be able to function.

The answer may be just a click—or a phone call—away.

Why LinkedIn Groups are Good for your Business

LinkedIn—it’s the quiet member of the Social Media triplets, longer-winded than Twitter, less social than Facebook. Yet, as is often the case with the less noisy sibling, from a business-building standpoint, LinkedIn is the golden child.

Nestled within LinkedIn’s powerhouse of tools is the Group function. Here we can connect professionally with the like-minded on topics as diverse as cooking and aerospace engineering, and engage in useful discussion.

Over the years, I’ve made some great connections through LinkedIn Groups. One of my favorites is the WM Freelance Writers Connection, where I joined a discussion started by Vincent Frogameni, a freelancer in Springfield, Massachusetts, on the Top 3 Freelancing Mistakes.

Because of my responses in that forum, Vincent asked to interview me—a request to which I quickly, and gladly responded. The interview is posted on his blog.

This is good for Vincent’s business because every interview he does with other writers and marketers drives traffic to his website and links him, via perception or reality, to the experts in his field. This is good for my business because being interviewed adds to the perception that I am an expert in my field, and also drives traffic to my website.

Get started with LI groups, if you haven’t already. Jump into existing discussions, or start one of your own. Then be proactive, like Vincent, using the relationships you build to boost someone’s business – and at the same time, your own.

My father used to say, “Still waters run deep.” In the Big 3 of Social Media, LinkedIn is the “still waters,” and the Groups function one of the gems beneath the surface. Dive in!