New Year, New You: Not if You’re on Facebook

You’ve probably already begun contemplating your New Years resolutions and are planning on setting some new goals for improving your financial, professional and personal life.

Top of the list are the usual suspects: joining the gym, giving up smoking, losing weight, finding the perfect partner, or dumping the current one, getting a raise, finally writing that novel or screenplay, or saving for your dream trip to ______ (fill in the blank).

You know only too well that the recipe for success is a good dose of commitment and focus, a pinch of sacrifice and a bucket load of will power. Right?

Not any more.

Nowadays, the most likely obstacle to the “New Year, New You” isn’t the temptation of those half-price shoes in the sales, the desire to hit the snooze button when it’s time for your morning exercise routine, or to reply to the flirtatious late night bootie text from the super cute guy who is “oh so wrong for you,” rather, it’s the likes of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

You know how it goes, you pop on quickly to check your messages, or update your status, then you notice that today is your old school friend’s birthday, so you post a lovely message on her wall, half way down her page, you notice a video that’s got a ton of “like’s” and funny comments, so you click the YouTube link (it will only take a sec), actually the video is 2 mins long but it’s hilarious and sooooo worth it!

Now, of course, you have to share it on your own wall, and Tweet it while you’re at it, and, as you’re trying to build your Klout score, you decide to Tumblr it too, which also feeds in to your LinkedIn profile, where you happen to notice you have a few unanswered requests, which you decide to accept. Before you know it, you have five tabs open; your Twitter feed is pinging faster than a two-step Tango, a distant cousin and your best mate are trying to Facebook chat with you. YouTube is notifying you that you are yet to watch the latest Jenna Marbles video (which bound to be side-splittingly-funny), and Tumblr wants you to review and comment on your friends’ latest reads, while Klout is warning that while you’ve been happily connecting with family and friends in “real-time” during the holidays, your online social score has dropped from “Thought Leader” status of 63 to a lowly “Broadcaster” at 55, which is more than worrisome.

Suddenly you feel your cortisol levels rising, together with your desire for a sneaky cigarette or that lump of chocolate cake. Desperately in need of a breather, you glance out of the window and notice the beautiful sunset smearing finger of clouds and candy bright streaks of pink and orange across the otherwise wintry grey sky. Something stirs within you. You reach for your smart phone. Click. Finger to touch screen you tap the familiar icon. Deliberate for a second over the benefits of Sierra vs. Earlybird before selecting the Amaro filter. You hit “share” and sit back with a satisfying sigh. Beautiful sunset shared with the world via Instagram. Check.

Suddenly you realize that this trip down the technological rabbit hole of social networking has just wasted the 30 mins you were planning to spend on that report for your boss which was bound to earn you brownie points towards the promotion and raise you wanted.

Social media has become the single most time-sapping activity in our daily lives. But Facebook wins the prize as the most addictive. A new report, The Social Habit 2012, by Edison Research shows that over half of the American population has a Facebook account and a quarter (that’s some 35 million people) check their account more than 5 times a day. And, according to another social media report by Nielsen, Americans spend 23% of their entire lives inside Facebook that’s the equivalent of 53.5 billion minutes per month.

“While checking Facebook may seem innocent, it’s surprising how quickly it can lead us into further social-media temptation” says Gemini Adams, author of The Facebook Diet: 50 Funny Signs of Facebook Addiction and Ways to Unplug with a Tech-Detox, the first book in The Unplug Series. She adds, “If you really want to achieve something notable this year, where time, focus and commitment are required, reviewing and managing your social media use is a must. Unless increasing your Klout score features as one of your New Years resolutions!”

Adams offers her Top 3 Tips for curbing your social media excess:

  1. Download and install MacFreedom or RescueTime free software tools that let you limit the amount of time or record the amount of time you spend on the internet using social media.
  1. If you have to write something, a report, essay, article or book, try writing longhand using a good old-fashioned pen and paper (you may need to lock your smartphone in the cupboard). This way there are no online distractions, and you get the benefit of doing a first-edit as you type it up.
  1. Leave your phone at home. Seriously. Make a conscious choice to do certain things without being connected; walk the dog, have coffee with a friend, visit an exhibit, you’d be surprised at the benefits. You’ll find yourself more present to the experience, you won’t be tempted to Tweet, post or Instagram your experience and you’ll get some valuable thinking time during which you can envision yourself having achieved your New Years resolutions.

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Categories: Self-Improvement

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