There’s been a lot written in this magazine about the potential dangers of a digital life on your health — from concerns over exposure to EMF radiation to providing some tips for maintaining civil discourse online.
As the main social media manager for this magazine, I applaud these efforts and know firsthand that social media can be too much of a good thing. For example, it can be overwhelming and demoralizing to see so much negativity in a newsfeed, especially when you monitor a lot of them at once.
That’s one reason why for the first two and a half years I worked for Experience Life, I chose not to have an internet connection in my house. I wanted to ensure that I was “unplugged” when I was not at work.
What I found was that I typically access Twitter, Tumblr and Facebook via my smartphone, so not having an internet connection wasn’t keeping me from anything.
I really have to rely on myself to ensure I step away from my phone and iPad. Here are some reasons you may want to consider making sure you don’t get too “Mad About Media” as well.
In my personal experiments, I found several things help reduce my screen time:
- Turning my devices off,
- Limiting the apps and email accounts I have on my devices,
- Leaving devices in my bag or pocket when I’m having real-life conversations,
- Not sleeping with my smartphone in my bedroom,
- Taking vacations from my mobile tools
Taking a vacation is my favorite of these because it generally leads to a grand adventure of some sort! This can be a daylong retreat or a full on gadget-free getaway. Sometimes a hike in the woods will do the trick. Other times I like to check out a museum exhibit or go on a bike ride. When I really need a break, I take a trip to my sister’s cabin where the glorious forest literally makes receiving a signal impossible. This allows me no other option but to gleefully replace my Samsung Galaxy with a fishing rod.
With all this in mind, I want to take a second to say one thing I like about social media. Twitter specifically. It is a tool for connecting me with people that I don’t know, but might want to know.
People like @HerdyShepherd1, a real-life shepherd. Since I’ve met absolutely ZERO people who are shepherds, I find it amazing that I could so easily connect with one and get a glimpse into a life so seemingly different from my own.
I realize that “a shepherd using Twitter” sounds like the start of a joke, but it isn’t. While there are many mock Twitter accounts, the punchline of these tweets are photos of adorable sheep and beautiful pastoral vistas. You’ll also find information about the importance of supporting local farmers and buying local products. Ideas trumpeted by this magazine.
So a bike-riding, social media manager who listens to vinyl records and advocates shopping locally and growing her own food has a lot more in common with a shepherd in rural Britain than anyone would probably think. This is what is profound about Herdy Shepherd’s notion of using Twitter as “a way to bust stereotypes.”
Social media is not good or bad. It is simply a tool. A tool for connecting people, a tool for challenging assumptions, a tool for marketing, and a tool for sharing information.
I agree that the revolution will not be tweeted. Revolutions are not that simple. However, social media can be a tool for people to share their vision of what a revolution looks like, and no revolution ever started without a vision.