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Lessons in leaving social media (momentarily) behind

I thought it would be hard to (again) give up on social media for awhile. Admittedly, I peeked once or twice at Facebook last week to see if anyone had posted anything on my wall, but overall, December’s social media fast was affirmative in the way I wanted it to be. Meaning, I remembered that I can and SHOULD go without reliance on these sites more in my life. Before this fast, I found myself using the excuse of looking at Twitter and Facebook feeds incessantly. The habit of checking up on other people (that feeling of “What am I missing now that I haven’t been on here for two hours?”) was getting in the way of living an interesting life of my own. I know I’m not alone in this compulsive behavior: A new study from the Pew Research Center reveals 49% of Americans spend at least 3 hours a week on social-media sites. THREE HOURS A WEEK!

I’m glad this time of reflection came when it did, nearing year’s end as I think about goals for 2012. Coincidence or not, in the past week, my attention was drawn to features in several magazines on the very topic of social media. From Real Simple’s “Social Disgraces” to GQ’s “18 People You’re Scared of on Facebook,” everywhere I turned I was reminded of what annoys me most about social media and the ways I no longer want social media to control me.

Which leads me to my pledge for 2012 in all areas of social media:That’s right….if it’s not an affirmation of someone, a bit of praise or good will, or a link to something fun or informative I want to share (the reasons I most found myself missing social media last week), then I’m NOT posting it.

I know this is just my own bit of personal advice, but I would love if some of my readers decided to “borrow” it and make this their own social media mantra for 2012. What tires me most are the tweets about Mondays (of which I’ve had a few myself, no lie), the “Why me?” attitudes so prevalent in social networking and the vague and off-putting messages so many people post on their Facebook walls (or as Real Simple describes it, “vaguebooking”).

I encourage you to give this a lot of thought in 2012 as I plan to do the same. Social media is here to stay—no ‘if’s about it. But let’s not allow these vehicles to negatively shape the way friends and followers see us, yeah? (A great exercise to gauge this: Take a few minutes to read back through your Facebook walls and Twitter feeds…it’ll say a lot about your character and how you’re spending your time online).

What about all of you? What’s YOUR most annoying social disgrace? How do YOU think you could use social media more effectively in your life? I know I still want to maintain a presence on both Facebook and Twitter because there is a lot I love about both platforms, especially popping in to “share” stuff or say hi with so many of my friends there. I just don’t want to let those presences control me! So I’ll be “fasting” again a few times in 2012 to keep this up and doing my best to live by the words above. If you aim to take a similar pledge or goal for yourself, let me know in the comments!

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