I hope 2016 has debuted on a positive note for you!
Over the holidays, I found the relatively quiescent social media world so restful and refreshing that I decided to seek continued peace by changing my online habits.
How best to optimize one’s social media time? This is necessarily a personal calculation, but I would like to offer ten guidelines that I plan to follow in the New Year.
Posting or tweeting in haste can land one in a quagmire of vitriol, escape from which can cost both time and emotional energy.
- Do not tweet or post while angry. If you feel compelled to respond to a provocative missive, jot your thoughts down in a text file and save them (or write them in an email to yourself only). Wait an hour, and then reread your words before posting anything.
Exception: if a journalist gets his or her facts wrong, send a correction, but keep the message clear of emotion.
- If you feel compelled to argue with someone, pause and ask yourself what in your own life you need or want to work on. Redirect your energy toward improving yourself instead of firing off a response.
- Similarly, before you criticize a public figure who has no power over your life (such as an athlete or an actor), redirect your energy toward your own goals.
Note that this reasoning applies to misdemeanor irritating habits and other small offenses. An athlete who violates the rules of his or her sport, breaks the law, or grossly misbehaves merits reasonable public criticism.
- If you disagree with a political post written by an “ordinary citizen” who is neither a journalist nor a member of the political class, keep in mind:(a) the author of the post with which you disagree has only one vote;(b) the author probably wants what’s best for his or her nation and the world but operates with a set of premises different from your own; and(c) the author is not your enemy.
It does no good to send an incendiary message to a relatively powerless citizen who happens to disagree with you about politics.
Exception: journalists and politicians have vast reach and influence. Go ahead and correct them if they get their facts wrong.
- If you find yourself in an online conversation that turns negative — for example, a cycle of “it’s so terrible that…” — either exit the conversation, or change its tone by saying something positive.
Life is too precious to spend time wallowing in the negative.
While it is always tempting and natural online to add new connections, network growth can trigger an explosion of one’s news feed. Not every post is a good use of time, and what is useful on one day might be a thief of time on a busier day.
Although for reasons of delicacy you may not want to Unfollow an online acquaintance, it is your right — and indeed your responsibility — to manage the volume and content of your news feed or timeline.
- Don’t be afraid to use the Mute feature on Facebook or Twitter. You are not obliged to read everything posted by your connections. If one of your Friends generates an overwhelming volume of posts, or if a Friend posts messages whose tone or content is offensive to you, use Mute either for just a few days or for the indefinite future.
- Similarly, “Turn off Retweets” on Twitter can reduce clutter from acquaintances who might forward too freely for your tastes.
- For the occasional hothead, uninvited guest, or unpleasant personality whose posts or other activity you don’t wish to see, the Block feature is a blessing.
- To quickly check highlights of your Twitter timeline when you are pressed for time (e.g., on a holiday, a travel day, or a busy workday), create a private List that includes only your “must see” feeds.
- Sometimes the best way to cut down on social media time is to shut it off completely.
Very best wishes for health, happiness, and success in 2016!
Quotes for Today
Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time; for that’s the stuff life is made of. — Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard’s Almanac, 1746
Lost time is never found again. — Benjamin Franklin