Deborah Siegel invites She Writers to report on what's working well, and what's not, during a 7-day collective attempt to re-calibrate our social media diet and feed our writerly soul. (Chocolate = win.)
Nearly 70 She Writers have joined me in the 7-Day Social Media Cleanse Challenge (woohoo!).To those participating, I’d love to hear how it’s been going for you. Rule #1 of the Challenge is being mindful of our social media usage, and that means reflecting on what we’re noticing. Here’s what I’ve noticed, my thoughts interspersed in italics between the “rules” of the Challenge, below. Please add yours in comments or a post!
1. I pledge to be mindful about my social media consumption.
Surprisingly, being mindful in one area has opened the door to more mindfulness in other areas as well. Upon consciously stating my intention to be mindful about my social media consumption, I’ve been more mindful this week about my sugar addiction and my rote tendency to say “yes” to things when really I’d like to say “no.” Go figure. Mindfulness spreads.
2. I will set aside some time (even just a few minutes, on the subway or while walking to get coffee) to think about which social media outlets feed me and which feel more like a drain. I will spend less time at social water coolers and more time at nutritious troughs that nourish my writerly soul (like She Writes, doh!).
Drain: I really don’t miss Facebook. I’d been participating minimally but always feeling like I “should” be participating more, without really wanting to. Letting go of the “should” has been liberating so far. I’ve been reading about more and more people “quitting” Facebook (including a number of you!) and frankly, it feels like a relief. I'm not quitting, but I'm not caring so much that I'm not super-active there.
Nourishment: I know this will sound like a shameless She Writes plug, but honestly, it’s the place I most want to be. Wherever you are, there you go. (Actually, it’s “Wherever you go, there you are,” but I kind of like my version better.) I feel so supported, so simpatico, and so inspired right here, by and with all of you.
3. I will work on letting go of that feeling that I’m missing something, or missing an opportunity to be responsive, if I’m not checking email at my usual pace. The impulse to check email is rote and reactive. I can do it less. People can wait.
Hells yeah! I’ve made the most progress on this one, I think. Turns out, the sky doesn’t fall if I’m not on email ten times a day. Who knew? But more critically, I've learned that I can let go of my own need for the "hit" of an immediate response as soon as I've sent something out. If I'm not mentally waiting for a response, my brain can focus on other things. Like, you know, WRITING. This pertains not only to the addictive nature of checking for email responses, but checking for comments on blog posts, RTs on tweets, "likes" on FB, etc.
4. Since this isn’t an abstinence thing and since I’m still ambitious, I will concentrate on growing my social media presence this next week on one channel alone. (For this next week, for me, that will be Twitter, because I’m finding it the most useful place to dip into the news stream on topics I track– follow me if you like: https://twitter.com/deborahgirlwpen)
Rather than actively pursue the gaining of followers, which isn’t really my mode, I’ve been doing my usual: authentically engaging in the stream. What I’ve done to try to grow the following is simply tweet and retweet a little more frequently than I did last week, but still only getting on there around twice a day. I’ve been reading my stream via Tweetdeck on my iPhone while on the subway. The beautiful thing about Twitter, I find, is that one can feed and be fed at the same time. The people I follow post stuff that feeds my thinking and writing, and in return, I throw stuff back out. This way, it rarely feels like an “extra” effort. It feels like research. Seriously.
5. I will cleanse my participation at other channels. (For me that means categorizing my Facebook “friends” by creating a few lists, and adjusting the status update flow so that I’m only seeing updates from the friends and Influencers I really care about following)
UTTER FAIL on this one. Weeding through FB friends feels like a “task” on the to do list that I just don’t feel like doing. Like folding laundry. Hmm. Maybe I’ll get to it next week. Or…not. (You should see the mountain of clean, unfolded laundry that piles up in my room—I can let it go for weeks, I’m ashamed to admit.) The learning here? Maybe I'm just not destined to be a huge FB-er.
6. I will get outside as much as I can. The cold, crisp air helps me reset my mind; the stimuli out there are a welcome change from a computer screen. Along those lines, I will be physically active as much as I can. (For me, that means yoga)
SUCCESS! I’ve been going for strolls in the tundra that is currently Brooklyn with my babies on the mornings when it’s not 5 degrees (the view from behind the stroller, left). As a result, I've been feeling like there's more air--not just outside, but within.
Tomorrow, I’m going on my first-ever-solo-by-myself-without-babies-or-husband RETREAT. My 42nd birthday is next week and there was nothing I wanted more than a little headspace. So my parents and husband went in the best gift I think I’ve ever chosen for myself: a 2-day yoga retreat. Yes, I rigged the timing of this cleanse to coincide with it. No, it’s not fair, I know. If you’re feeling jealous, please know that this is my first vacation in 2 full years (recession, out-of-work husband, bedrest-laden pregnancy, twins). Yes, I do know how lucky I am. And I wish for a retreat—some kind, any kind—in your near future too! I hope mine will be contagious. I picked up the idea from a friend who went to a spa. I was insanely jealous, and then I finagled a way to get this much-needed break too.
7. I will forgive myself if I fail at any of the items above. And I will eat as much chocolate as I like. (See? I promised you there’d be chocolate.)
SCORE. She Writes’ Social Community Manager, Julia Barry, came over the other night bearing two huge bars of Godiva 85% Extra Dark Santo Domingo cocoa and I’ve slowly been making my way through. The self-forgiveness thing seems to be working too. My mantra these days is “less Shoulds,” which is not antithetical to this Challenge. These are just guidelines, and the learning is in how we respond to them, not whether we succeed or fail. I firmly believe that and hope you do too.
Ok then! FOUR MORE DAYS TO CLEANSE. (If you're just joining us and want in, just say "I'm in!" in comments and start counting from the day you begin.) Since I’m not bringing my computer to the retreat, I won’t be online from tomorrow afternoon through Sunday. It’s the first time I’ve gone that long without signing on since—since EVER.
But I’d really love to hear how it’s all been going for you. Feel free to share what you've noticed, in comments or a post at your SW blog, and I’ll drop back in when I’m back!
In the meantime, some links from those who commented. Many of us, it seems, have been on the same page:
How We Spend Our Days: Adjusting My Social Media Balance (via Kory Wells)
Mom Challenges Family to Unplug for 6 Months (via Barbara Field)
A Writer Writes (via Heather Plett)