Social Media Boundaries
A few weeks ago I started talking about boundaries, but as if you haven’t noticed already, I sometimes have a hard time staying on one topic too long.

So let me circle back to the idea of boundaries around our social media. Otherwise, what parameters do you put around your social media use that will help prevent you from getting swallowed up by it, going insane or letting it completely dominating your life?

What Is A Boundary?
Most simply defined, a boundary is, the line or plane indicating the limit or extent of something.

So is there a line or plane that indicates the limit or extent to which you will engage, or allow social media to take over your life? What is it? How do you even know if social media is taking over your life?

Do You Have Social Media Boundaries In Your Life? Quiz Time
Here is my little quiz. Answering yes to any or all of these tells me it has taken over. Keep in mind that to come up with questions means that I have probably violated some or all of them. So know you are in good company. And I know there are more, so feel free to contribute in the comment section. Also, remember, social media and using it is not bad in and of itself, it’s when it takes over facets of our lives.

  1. You hop on the web to do a simple task, but you still find yourself online hours later, addicted, doing something completely different than your initial task?
  2. When you are with your family you have thoughts of, “I can’t wait until they all get in bed, then finally I can post my blog?”
  3. If you don’t blog, Twitter or message on Facebook you feel as if you are letting others down, or you feel left out?  You feel less relevant?
  4. When you are with your wife at dinner you check incoming messages or play with your phone, even if it seems like an appropriate time to do so (like when she’s at the restroom).
  5. On your day off you can’t walk into the next room or leave the house without your cell phone?
  6. You find yourself Twittering about experiences as they are happening, rather than just living the experience (i.e. athletic events, concerts, your children’s events, baby delivery, etc, etc.)
  7. When you go to dinner with your friends you look around and all  of you are on your phones texting, Twittering, etc….even if that’s now expected and accepted, it is what you are all doing?
  8. You could not fathom going a week or even a few days without your computer (not for work purposes…but just in general)?
  9. All of your email is sent to your phone and the constant flow of email dictates your day?
  10. You sit in a room with your family and everyone is on the computer rather than engaging one another? Even though you are there, you are not full present to children or spouse because you are thinking about the next free time that you can hop online and not feel guilty about it?

Admitting You Have A Problem
I love, love social media, and therefore I have not done a good job of setting limits on it. Now I know social media can encompass a lot of different things, but I broadened the topic to not just social media, but technology in general….things of technological nature (but mainly things online) that we allow to take over. Computers, cell phones w/web, etc.

So if you answered yes to any of those questions I would say you have a problem. I know, you don’t think you do….which probably means you are in denial. And everyone knows that the first step to help and recovery is admittance of the problem.

My name is Rhett Smith and I have a social media problem. I’m online too much, I waste endless amounts of time surfing the web, I am not fully present to my relationships, I check my cell phone way too often, I feel irrelevant at times if I don’t post enough blogs or Twitter frequently (wow…as a therapist I could analyze myself for days on that one).

My Social Media Experiment
I have started looking around at my life and am realizing how much I am not only influenced, but in a way led by the online world. So I have decided to take action, set some limits and see how it goes. I view this rather as an experiment since it’s new to me and I know I will have to be adjusting some things as I go.

But as experiments go, and as setting habits go, I think it’s better to start small and achieve some success than go too big and fail. So I have decided to scale back in some areas for many reasons. Sanity. Rest. Focus on in person relationships. Clarity. Discernment. Wisdom.

Now I know all of you are saying, “Rhett, Rhett…wait, haven’t you been raving about social media forever and trying to get us all on board?” Yes. But all things can go to extremes. And even though I love social media it does have a dark side. And for me to be more effective in using it, I also have to be wise about the parameters I set around it. This is a living experiment for me as well. Learning as I go.

So here is what I am proposing I do:

  1. Blog no more than 3 posts a week.
  2. Stop email coming to my phone.
  3. Stop checking Twitter on my phone.  Only online.
  4. Check Facebook only 1 time a day.
  5. 10pm Internet Rule: Once 10 hits I can’t be online anymore.
  6. Family Time: Focus on being present.  No thinking about being online, or wanting to Twitter about something if it takes me away from being present (this is more subjective)
  7. Visit no more than 25 blogs a day.
  8. Saturday Sabbath: No internet (I’m not talking about checking a phone number or address) surfing.
  9. No Twittering on Sunday
  10. When I am with family (dinner with wife, playing with daughter)…no Twittering.  This is subjective sometimes, because my wife and I might want to Twitter about something we are doing so the family can see.  But you get the point.

These are all rules negating. Meaning, I am deciding not to do something, so they can be looked at as negatives. But the purpose of negating is so that in the time that that is freed up from the negation we can do positive, life giving things. Like read, rest, pray, reflect, study, enjoy the outdoors, engage in conversation with family, etc. Also, my fear is if we don’t do these things, then we will have no informed, wisdom filled guiding principle in regards to social media….because we haven’t had time to think in the midst of our addiction.

I was convicted by several things. Seth Godin’s blog on what we could really do with our time. Marcus Goodyear’s social media sabbatical. The Pyromaniacs are taking a month off. Andrew Jones quotes Darren Rowse of Problogger as saying this:

“I’m not advocating that we all stop using RSS – but perhaps this week set aside some time to just sit with your own ideas. Get offline completely, take a paper and pen and start writing – see where your thoughts lead you!”

H(at)T(ip) to Andrew Jones who mentioned some of the people above in one of his posts and who has taken many blog sabbaticals himself.

So What Can You Do
If you have been feeling like I mentioned above in regards to social media, maybe it’s time you stop, pause and reflect on some changes you can make.

I wonder if we are so busy spending all of our time in the world of instant ideas, if we will actually have anytime to foster ideas of our own that are just instant, but lifelong and life giving.

I would love to hear what you think.

Do you agree with me? Do you disagree? Why?

Are you addicted?

What changes are you going to make?

What are some other signs of social media addiction?

So, we will see how my experiment goes. It is something that requires discipline. But if I don’t have the discipline to resist sending out a Twitter just to tell everyone I’m in a movie theater, then I really wonder what kind of discipline I have.