Yikes! So this post ended up getting published early this morning even though, as you probably could tell, I hadn’t written anything yet! I thought I had just saved it but instead, I scheduled it for publishing! How embarrassing…
Anyway, I do want to talk about social media burnout. It’s the topic of this month’s DSMA Carnival and something that I think is really important. It’s not something that is isolated in the diabetes community. Regardless of what online community you belong to or if you even just use the Internet to keep up with friends and family, sometimes you just get tired of keeping track of so many people.
Social media has expanded my community beyond anything I could have imagined. I got more involved when I was in college because I hardly knew anyone with diabetes and I really wanted to share my experiences and learn from others. As this community has grown over the years — and Lord, has it grown! — it’s become harder and harder to keep up with everyone. While I’m so excited that people are finding their way into the community, it can put a lot of pressure on people to follow and keep up with everybody.
Something I discovered a long time ago was that this just isn’t realistic. I stopped putting the expectation on myself that I needed to follow everyone, friend everyone, and read everyone’s posts everyday. I wish I could, but that would leave little time for anything else. I love the diabetes community, but not at the expense of the rest of my life! I started forming my own mini-community, and I focus more on the people with whom I really click with. Some people might think that’s “cliquish” but I think it makes sense. If you have limited resources, you’re going to spend them on the people who really bring something special to your life.
This has been an enormous help in preventing social media burnout, because I no longer feel compelled to keep up with Jones. In the real world, keeping up with the Joneses usually means you’re spending a ton of money doing what the Joneses are doing. But on the Internet, keeping up with Joneses means spending a ton of time just knowing what the Joneses are doing!
My biggest piece of advice for dealing with social media burnout is to first identify whether or not you’re really getting something out of all the various people and organizations you follow. Which blogs do you consistently skim or wish you could “mark all as read”? Is there anyone on Facebook or Twitter that you don’t even recognize? It can be a little embarrassing to unfollow or unfriend, but I think it’s becoming more respected when people realize they need to pare down their online life.
Sometimes you don’t want to completely cut someone out of your life, which is why I find a certain amount of organization is helpful. Facebook has become a place where the people I’m friends with are people I actually know in person. Twitter is a bit more open, but I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t follow people just because they follow me. I have to be interested in what they’re saying, but I’m also more flexible and willing to follow people I don’t know personally. And finally, there are a blogs, which I’ve organized into different topics. Sometimes I just don’t feel like reading about diabetes, so I can save them for a time when I want to catch up on things.
The Diabetes Online Community should be a place where you feel refreshed and refueled in your life with diabetes, but that’s not always going to be the case. Sometimes it’s just a matter of stepping back into the rest of your life — especially after some heated controversy like the NY Times article — and sometimes it’s a matter of figuring out the best way to incorporate social media into your life. Social media can often spur comparisons between how we do something and how they do something. Social media can encourage growth, but it can also create unrealistic expectations. We need to know our own limits and how to be best take care of ourselves. Even if that means unfriending the Joneses.
This post is my April entry in the DSMA Blog Carnival. If you’d like to participate too, you can get all of the information at http://diabetescaf.org/2014/04/april-dsma-blog-carnival-4/