I adore social media.
I’m a people person, an extrovert who’s personal motto is “the more the merrier”. I thrive on lots of interaction and revel in any environment that foster relationships.
For that reason social media has a huge draw for me. I wrestle routinely with keeping social media in its place in my life–as a tool, rather than an entertaining escape from responsibility. It’s a challenge, but I have refused to throw in the towel because I do feel called to write and steward the opportunities God has given me online. So I have to keep studying and experimenting to figure out how my online presence can enhance my life without being a burden.
This summer I took a rather unconventional approach to social media, ignoring much of the advice on when and where and how often to blog or post to social media. And I learned a few things:
1. Social media is a great for when life should be shared.
I got a clear example of the what sort of life events are perfect for sharing on social media with the apple harvest this month. The Lord blessed us with the largest crop of apples yet from the 4 ancient apple trees in our backyard, and we had 3 days in which I ‘put it out there’ on social media that we’d be picking apples and pressing and would need hands willing to help. Facebook was the perfect tool for spreading the word, and we had all the help we needed all three days, allowing us to press 174 gallons of cider over three weeks. What a blessing!
That is a large-scale example, but other things that are better shared widely on social media include:
- ideas that need to be brainstormed
- prayer requests
- links to content that has enhanced my life
2. Not all of life needs to be shared.
I also learned something from what I chose not to share in the blog this summer. In May, we left NY to spend the summer living in our bus in Alabama. Yes, I spent most of the summer–pregnant!–in Alabama–Surprise! When we left NY, Jeremy and I decided that it would probably be wise if I didn’t broadcast to the world wide web that our home would be vacant for 3 months, so I just kinda didn’t mention it on social media.
It felt weird to blog without alluding to my location. To hide a part of me from you all when I believe if I’m gonna have a public blog, I ought to be real and authentic as often as possible. But having one whole part of my life ‘taboo’ online helped me from over-sharing–from getting sucked in to ALL of my life being online. It showed me that not everything needs to be shared online.
When deciding what to share on a daily basis, it helps me to filter my posts through questions like these:
- Does this content inspire others, or simply get me attention?
- Will this matter a week from now? A month? (If not, I question the validity of the time it takes to post it!)
- Is the over-all feel of this content positive or negative? Uplifting or depressing?
- Are there possible negative results from making this information public?
3. Timing is everything.
It seems that when deciding what life stories should be scattered abroad on the internet and which to keep close, timing is a key factor. Sometimes a subject matter needs instant feedback from my online friends. Other times, life needs to be lived, issues prayed over, or lessons learned in a season of quiet in which God and the IRL friends who know me best are the loudest voices.
This summer was such a time for Jeremy and I. We needed a season of living small, refocusing and crafting a solid vision and direction for our little family, and that is best done in a quieter season when God’s voice is able to be heard above the hum of social media. It was a very productive season in that sense, which has taught me that social media needn’t always have a voice in every decision.
In embracing a certain amount of restraint and quiet in what I share online, I realized that my Facebook wall or Instagram doesn’t actually have to be a newspaper, with up-to-the minute updates–it can be more like a scrapbook, preserving highlights after the living happened. I’m learning that some things are best shared after they’ve become history.
4. You can take a seasonal approach to social media.
After a summer spent using social media in a rather unconventional way, I’ve concluded that it doesn’t have to burden me if I remember that the best social media strategy for me is whatever allows me and my family to thrive. (<–Tweet that!) If my online presence was more of a business, I could see that I’d need to be more regular and routine in my posting. But because I see my blog and other social media presences as simply tools that help me live out my passions more fully, I can pick them up and put them down when the use of them enhances my life, but not to the point of burdening me.
I really love the freedom to embrace an approach that works for me in whatever season I’m in. We had limited internet and just a teeny laptop in Alabama–a great excuse to not stress about being ‘on top’ of what I was sharing and producing online. Some weeks, my spare time centers around a message that’s burning in me, then I spend more time online. Other weeks, I almost don’t even look like a blogger, too busy with other life events. Maintaining personal integrity (living the life I claim to be committed to) seems to be better for my stats and online relationships than stressing to maintain the consistency of a ‘professional’ blogger.
- Crystal Paine’s post Why I Think You Should Break the Blogging Rules (which she wrote after she let me pick her brain for an hour on the phone about finding a social media approach that works for me and my family)
- My #1 Strategy for keeping my sanity when it comes to Social Media
- The Unwired Mom: a book for any mom who needs encouragement and inspiration for keeping family and real life priority over social media. I read this over the summer and definitely benefited.
We’re home now (with good internet and a desktop!), and I’m looking forward to sharing some more photos of our summer adventures with you, as well as what the Lord spoke to us during our season of refocusing and vision-crafting. Look for that in the next post!
(linking to Desire to Inspire on A Royal Daughter today!)
Meanwhile, how are you doing with your social media approach? How do you decide which parts of your life to share online?