Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Individual Paths

Recently, I've become overwhelmed with the deluge that is social media. I have to rein myself in from checking Facebook and Twitter all of the time, and then I end up panicking that I'm falling behind if I don't see what is going on. There are aspects of social media which I love, but one thing I hate is the pressing urge for more information, and then the sense that I am not keeping up with everyone else and should know more than I do.

There are so many choices in the world we live in. Everywhere we turn we have options, each one more enticing than the last, and we have to learn to sift the wheat from the chaff or we will go nuts. I worry about teaching my kids the value of focusing on one thing at a time when everyone around them is multi-tasking like crazy. We eat, sleep and breathe multiple things at once now, and the end result for me is overwhelming chaos.

Every so often I must take a deep breath and talk myself down from the ledge. I need to stoke the fire of my own confidence, and recognize that I have my own plan as an author. The fact that other writers are doing things differently doesn't have to alter my plans. I wish this message would ingrain itself deeply into my psyche, and not trip me up so often.

We are all on individual paths. We are not meant to be clones of one another. When I feel strong and secure in myself, I somehow know this to be true, and I don't have to work so hard at believing it. But when I immerse myself in social media, and see all of the "how to" articles on being a better writer, and five great ways to promote yourself more effectively, I begin to doubt what I'm doing, and look to the left and to the right when it should be eyes front.

Putting one foot in front of the other and making decisions which are right for me should be at the top of my agenda. It's just so easy to get lost in the myriad of information available to us at the speed of light, and it's never hard to lose sight of our focus. Things get blurry when we become too fixated on what other people are doing. There is certainly a time and place to learn from what is working and what isn't for other people, but sometimes we need to trust our own gut, and not worry when our path diverges from the next person's.

I need to be stricter with myself when it comes to social media. Perhaps I need a day off every week, or finish surfing Facebook and Twitter at a certain point each day, like 7 pm when my kids go to bed. Getting an iPhone has had many obvious benefits, but a key drawback is that I end up taking it with me to the couch in the evening, and when I should be unwinding and reading or watching a movie, I end up multi-tasking and essentially still working while I should be relaxing.

I have to remember that I am in charge of my various electronic devices, and not the other way around. I can opt out, at any time, and not be any poorer for it. The panic that I will fall behind exists only in my mind. Social media is there to connect us, not enslave us, and I need to prioritize the personal interactions in my life and not spend valuable time staring at my phone or laptop when my kids or husband or friends are talking to me.


  1. I saw something on the news a few months back that there was a study done in the US that showed that people who are active in social networking tend to be far more depressed than those that are not. The theory is that: 1. They are more focused on others lives than making theirs into what they want and 2. It creates a false sense of community while at the same time increasing the need to "keep up with the Jones'" because people are now not just comparing themselves to their neighbors or friends but instead hundreds of extra people that you would otherwise not even stay in contact with. Interesting..

  2. I can see that. The competition part is especially troubling, and I've been sucked into that vortex more times than I can count.

    Social media also has a voyeuristic aspect which can create obsessions with what other people are doing, and unless your contacts are actual friends in real life, it can create a false sense of intimacy.