A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about a transition I’m currently going through. You’ll see more about this in the coming weeks as it unfolds, but on Friday last week I had a coaching session with Vicki McLeod about the direction of my career.
Both Vicki and Cadi are dear friends. Because I live downtown, I don’t actually see them all that often, so the bulk of our exchanges are made online; via Facebook, Instagram, and private messaging.
On our drive, our remarked to Vicki how grateful I was for social media, because it keeps us connected, but that there also wasn’t anything that could replace a hug IRL.
Vicki’s jam is all about mindfulness, and being yourself, both online and off, and so we got to talking about finding balance in our lives–both online (important for maintaining relationships) and offline (necessary).
So I thought I’d write a blog post about it. Hey–it’s what I do, right?
Living my life online
For me, social media is invaluable. I’m a self-employed, solo parent, so I work and live alone a lot. When my son is here, I don’t go out and socialize at night, but I have this chunk of time after he goes to bed where could be hanging with friends. On the nights when he isn’t here, I either work or meet up with friends.
I’m an extrovert, so I need to be with people. It feeds me. Social media allows me to stay in touch with friends on a daily basis that I may not actually see IRL for months. That is an extremely powerful thing. It fills a direct need.
The other thing about me and my online life is that I try to be authentic. I consider it to be the greatest compliment when someone meets me in real life and says “you’re exactly like you are online.” I strive to be that. The real me. Bubbly, nerdy a little quirky… yup, that’s all me.
I try to be really upbeat and positive, and give props where props are due. If I have a great dinner or Cartem’s has a great donut this month, believe me, I will tell you about it. And I mean it. That’s part of my authenticity, I won’t say something nice about something unless I really feel it.
Living my life Offline
As much as I value social media, I have some pretty clear guidelines about what goes online and what doesn’t.
You will very seldom see me talking about my romantic life on social media. I’m talking to my friends about it, you can bet I am, but for the most part, my dating and love life stays off of Facebook.
You will also very seldom see me talking smack about anyone online. Occasionally, I’ll complain on Twitter or maybe on FB if I get some really bad customer service. Usually, if I have a bad experience, I won’t say anything at all, or sometimes I do take to Twitter to complain directly to the source.
In a related point, I don’t air my dirty laundry on FB. A while back, I had a bad experience with someone for whom I was supposed to be writing a sponsored post for. I did write about it on FB, but I didn’t name any names, and instead of vaguebooking or being passive-agressive, I listed what I’d learned from that experience, in hopes that other people would not make the same mistakes I had.
I take breaks from social media sometimes. You’d be hard pressed to find someone that uses social on a daily basis more than I do, but sometimes I need a break. In July, after coming back from Chicago, where it was my job to live-tweet for three days, I was feeling pretty burnt out. You need breaks sometimes.
Finally, I try to live my life in the moment. It’s hard to do that when you’re taking photos and tweeting them. Sometimes, though, it’s my job to take photos and tweet them, so you have to figure out when it’s appropriate and when it’s not. I love those evenings when I’m out with friends and we realize that we were having such a good time that we forgot to take photos or tweet about it. I don’t have photographic evidence of that night to look back on, but I have some great memories.
How do you try to create balance between your online and offline lives? I’d love to hear in the comments below.