Social Media – Is It Empowering Or Overpowering?

As a PR & Communications specialist, published poet, Hospitality Features writer and a to-be-published author, I really do understand the importance of setting priorities, maintaining discipline, being focussed, consistently perseverant and goal oriented. Giving vent to seed-germination-plant theory, I place enough weightage on the fact that every action was once a noble thought that was nudged out of the crevices of the mind by strong will, determination, diligence assisted ably by hard work and creativity.

With such straightened out thinking, as clear as water, what becomes my nemesis is the wrong-doing or sloth that comes in my path by way of procrastination and playful, mindless distractions. Such as checking out friends’ statuses and pictures on Facebook, keeping abreast of the latest tweets of my tweeple, watching that interesting video on YouTube or simply getting down to a nonsensical virtual game that is so utterly unproductive but helps me hide behind the sham that I am occupied, albeit ungainfully.

Every morning starts with an honourable intention to draw out and follow a sacrosanct to-do list, jotted down in the sanctum of the most private place in the home office without any worldly interference and with a resolve to conquer my Goliath. Yet, the moment the morning starts progressing into the day, my will begins to wither, the determination gets embattled by the urge to click elsewhere and the spirit starts slackening. The charm of social networking beckons and ensnares me in its fold, relegating what’s important to another day and time. And once you are onto this social, virtual juggernaut, it is mighty difficult to wean yourself out as it begins to suck you into the deep recesses of its womb. Sooner than later, you get into this jocular, other-worldly mood living a vicarious existence in the lives of your friends, far removed from the real and important goals of YOUR life!

You might argue that I fall prey to this because I work from a home office. But there are a legion cases of employees hiding behind a screen whiling away office time playing Solitaire, Candy Crush, Farmville or whatever the flavour of the season is. There are an equal number of us liking friends’ Facebook posts or commenting on LinkedIn updates or retweeting a wisecrack, while still at work.

When you are on the net you tend to make that big mistake and be disillusioned with a make-believe situation that you can actually multitask to the extent that you can work and play at the same time.

When you are on the net you tend to make that big mistake and be disillusioned with a make-believe situation that you can actually multitask to the extent that you can work and play at the same time. So, you get into this monstrous maze that sets you clicking from one tab to another in the most futile manner delivering zilch on the productivity front.

There are enough studies being conducted to show how people are becoming more prolific, creative and successful in meeting their goals by taking up the challenge of leaving the social media trap for one year (or whatever block of time they may have chosen); or uninstalling Twitter, WhatsApp, Facebook  applications from their smartphones; or limiting their access to such pitiably bottomless attractions (indeed the newsfeed of some of these social media platforms is bottomless and unceasing) to just one or two hours in the day.

Having said that, Social media comes with huge advantages and gains too – as tools of publicity and promotion, brand building and image reinforcement, news sharing and opinion-making, creating trends, shaping consumer behaviour, furthering causes. The pluses are endless and gigantic; big enough for you not to take these platforms lightly. The essential need-of-the-hour is to be wise, intelligent and judicious in harnessing these channels for effective use, as also requisite doses of fun; as against getting sucked into the whirlpool of the unreal / semi-real world they propagate in a manner from which you cannot be rescued.

Soren Gordhamer, Organizer of the Wisdom 2.0 Conference, which brings together staff from Google, Facebook, and Twitter with others to explore living wisely in our modern age, says “There have never been more things that call out for our attention: We have tweets to read, Facebook statuses to check, put up pictures and posts on Pinterest and Instagram — not to mention text messages, e-mails, and cell phone calls. And the amount of data is growing each day. Recent reports estimate that the average American consumes 34 GB worth of content a day, including 100,000 words of information. While this access to information has numerous benefits; learning to live and work skillfully amidst an active social media lifestyle is an art in itself — one that will be increasingly challenging in the years ahead.”

With the number of social media platforms increasing rapidly and with new features being added each day on the existing ones, it is becoming imperative, more and more, to try to not only keep one’s head above water but to stay relevant and industrious, accomplishing one’s key goals.

Here follow five simple tricks and tactics to manage the Social media and make it work for you, without allowing it to enslave you. These lessons will help you stay sane and focused amidst an active social media lifestyle.

1. Manage the internal needs to reign in the external stimuli

Back in 1943, Abraham Maslow put forth his theory of the ‘Hierarchy of needs’ in which he rightly put pleasure and trivia below esteem and actualization.

Ask yourself each morning (or several times in a day) what is it that you actually wish to achieve at the end of the day or the week. Having determined the actual point of focus, go after it with all that you have; allowing yourself only minor, short-lived digressions.

To channelize the internal impetus back on track look towards a short walk, or a spot of reading, or listening to your favourite music to get back, with renewed vigour, to what needs your undivided attention.

“The biggest (and hardest) lesson I’ve learned in life is that the external world is just a reflection of the world within,” says Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos.

Finally, know thyself as bible exhorts, know the raison d’être for your life. Listen to that big drummer up there who beats uniquely for you, hear out the silent little beats that make music only for you and follow your impassioned heart and rational mind into getting on the path that only YOU are meant to tread upon.

Go on, beat the brash blitz of the unimportant or the less important, conquer the bastions and charge ahead on your mission and goals in life by wearing the blinkers of high resistance to fruitless pleasures of social media.

2. Do not multitask

New research is beginning to point out that humans cannot multi-task on more than two things at a time. A recent study at Stanford found that the more people multitask, the worse they become at it.
So, turn a deaf ear to this latest scientific revelation at your own peril.

If you wish to accomplish a lot more, then do one thing at a time – satisfactorily, having given it your 100%. Then get on to the next and from there on eat that mountain bite by bite.

“When people try to perform two or more related tasks either at the same time or alternating rapidly between them, errors go way up, and it takes far longer — often double the time or more — to get the jobs done than if they were done sequentially,” states David E. Meyer, director of the Brain, Cognition, and Action Laboratory at the University of Michigan.

3. Do not be too hard on yourself

From time to time, cut yourself some slack. The temptations of the Social media are so large and incessant that the more you try to push them away, the more you will be drawn towards it. So, instead of creating a mental prison, give in to the ‘pull’ and you will be able to pull away with far more ease and conviction.

Create a healthy, happy balance between Social media time and the no-go zone. Also, learn to maintain a healthy, constructive equilibrium between Social Media for work (after all, Social Media is an integral part of your business strategy; true for any business that you may be in today) and Social media for fun (that is essential too – to keep you in touch, to bust your stress, to keep you in step with breaking news and latest trends).

4. Do not indulge in it first thing in the morning

A lot of us wake up to the alarm set on our smartphones. And with this proximity to the device comes the easy opportunity to quickly check out the posts on the Social media. Similarly, we fall into the trap at the Breakfast table or when we are booting the computer at work. We tell ourselves it will take only a few minutes but it never does as we get so immersed in one post after another, losing the track of time.

Time Management Gurus have been telling us for years to fight the urge to check and respond to our emails first thing at the start of our day. Now the onslaught is from several directions and the risk of losing precious time so much more.

Make a rule of finishing at least one major or two moderate tasks before you get on the Social media platforms for work. The feeling of having accomplished good work will be substantially high and you will end up achieving more by the end of the day.

As for Social media for fun, use it as a reward or a stress buster to a long, hard day. Treat it special, like entering a Country Club to catch a drink with friends on Facebook or engaging in a cerebral dialogue over coffee with connections on LinkedIn or allowing yourself interesting time-out on Twitter with shoes kicked off, satchel laid aside and that tie loosened up. 

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L. Aruna Dhir
L. Aruna Dhirhttp://www.larunadhir.blogspot.com
L. Aruna Dhir is a recognized and national-poll winning Corporate Communications Specialist and Writer. Currently, she is a Feature Writer for ehotelier.com and Columnist with Hospitality.Net – the world’s two highest-ranked Hospitality publications. Aruna is also an avid blogger and a published poet; with two anthologies to her credit. Her writings appear in several national and international publications. A seasoned hotelier, with over 20 years of experience with some of India and Asia's top hotel brands, Aruna’s industry writings are syndicated to the finest global hospitality bodies and used as references in case studies and hotel schools. As an industry expert, Aruna has launched brands, developed training modules, created standardization dockets on business communication and written manuals. Aruna has been engaged in freelance work for Doordarshan – the Indian National Television, All India Radio, and Times FM. Aruna also serves on the Board of Association of Emerging Leaders Dialogues (AELD), a front-running Commonwealth Body that works towards developing leaders and influencers of tomorrow, with Princess Anne as its international President. An All- India level topper in her Public Relations course, Aruna has represented India to a select group of opinion-makers in the United States, as a Cultural Ambassador under the aegis of Rotary International. She has also participated in the IXth Commonwealth Study Conference held in Australia and chaired by Princess Anne. L. Aruna Dhir is the first-ever Creative Writer for the Indian greeting cards giant – ARCHIES Greetings and Gifts Ltd. She is the only person in India to have contributed original verses and have her byline on the cards. In her official and personal capacity L. Aruna Dhir has and continues to work on several social awareness projects – People for Animals, Earthquake Relief, National Blind Association, PETA, WSPA, Change.org, Friendicoes to name a few. www.luckyaruna.blogspot.com
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