Are We a Culture of Social Media Addicts?

> Wake up. Check email.

> Have coffee. Check Twitter, Facebook, and all other social channels.

> Get dressed. Read RSS feeds.

> On the hour or more frequently, repeat above check-ins.

Does this sound like your typical day? Are you a 24/7 social animal? Many of us follow some of these patterns to a greater or lesser degree. Are we all becoming addicted to social media?

Multi-tasking once consumed our thoughts. So passé.

Recently The Wall Street Journal posted an article stating that we’ve become a culture of braggarts, constantly craving attention and validation. Added to the showboating, a recent study out of the University of Chicago indicates that social media is more addictive than alcohol and cigarettes. A potentially dangerous combination for both our business and personal lives.

Mashable posted this video from an artist in Copenhagen about our social dependency, asking “When is too much simply too much?” It’s very well done, and slightly frightening.

For me, nothing replaces a face-to-face or phone call. Business is transacted more quickly in many cases, and there’s less likelihood for miscommunication. And it really is connecting – listening and reacting in real time. It’s building relationships crucial to good business – and repeat business. I follow the same general rule for personal connections.

Where’s the balance?

If you are a in danger of becoming a 24/7 connected, here are some tips that I adhere to – well mostly. Nobody’s perfect.

  • Limit email check-ins: This is my Achilles heel. Unless I’m on deadline and awaiting important information, I check in periodically throughout the day, and give incoming mail a quick scan. If nothing looks critical, I turn my attention back to the project.
  • Develop a clear strategic plan of what you want to accomplish: There are a lot of channels out there, and it’s easy to jump on them all and see what sticks. Strip away anything tried, but not working, and anything you don’t fully understand. Focus on concentrating your efforts to maximize your time and message, and avoid time-sucks.
  • Schedule times for social media check-ins: Unless you are in the middle of an event (and you’re live streaming, tweeting etc.) what can’t wait a while for a response? Limit check-in times to what your schedule allows, and stay focused on the tactics that you’ve developed to support your strategy.
  • Focus attention on the task at hand: Forget the viral video, or the latest news, and concentrate. Wandering and following off-topic links and threads only takes your mind off your purpose and further wastes precious time. Before you know it, two hours have passed (come on, we’ve all done this) and you still haven’t accomplished what was needed.

Living in a connected world has dramatically changed out lives. When managed correctly, that connectedness can enrich us. So we move ever forward, finding our own balancing acts.

How do you structure your social connectedness? Any tips you’d like to share?

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