Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Social Media's Impact on Personal Life - Personal Reflections

The question - does social media impact personal life? The answer - yes.  Is that a good thing or a bad thing? The answer - it depends.

I have been on vacation the past week or so and am currently on personal leave to finish writing my dissertation proposal (which, as you can see, I am procrastinating!) During my vacation, I swore I would take a break from blogging, Twitter, email, and all things electronic.

I lied.

I admit - I did honestly make the attempt and in fact, did not turn on my computer one time.  However, the iPad is a constant companion, especially since the books I am reading (currently, the Game of Thrones series) are on there, so I had the iPad with me a lot - even on the beach.  It was very easy to check if I had emails, to check out my Facebook or to send a Twitter or two.  Long story short, I failed miserably at the disconnecting aspect.

View from chair and under canopy!
Which brings me back to the question of does social media impact personal life? The obvious answer in my case is a resounding yes. Is this impact good or bad? The answer to that: it depends. On vacation, while at the beach, sitting in my beach chair under the canopy, I took pictures with my iPad and posted them to Facebook.  This was a good benefit to my personal life, as it kept a record of the vacation, captured moments that were happening right then and there, let friends and family see what was going on, and allowed all the friends we were vacationing with to have pictures they could tag and keep as memories.

However, while in same beach chair under same canopy, I also checked my email because, gosh darnit, I just can't help myself!  This was a BAD impact on my personal life because clearly, I was NOT escaping my work and truly enjoying the vacation. Granted, I did mostly just read or delete the emails versus responding, but the fact that I was constantly connected to work is an aspect of social media that interferes with personal life.  Obviously, I could turn off the email, but I don't, and I would imagine there are many others like me who can't turn off as well.

I also tweeted while on vacation.  Not on a daily basis, but I definitely did tweet.  I found this the second most difficult thing to avoid on vacation besides email. Those of you who tweet know that a daily presence is important, and so I felt as if I was missing out on things, which means this social media tool has a bad impact on my personal life - feeling guilty that I am not posting because a) I am missing information posted by those I follow and/or b) I might lose followers due to long-term silence in the twittersphere. I couldn't help myself - I did participate in the weekly #edchat on Tuesday.  At the beach again, in my chair....but there it is - I was giving an entire hour of my vacation and time with friends to connect with my PLN.  Bad impact or good impact on my personal life? A little of both I would think.  Bad because I took that time away from the family and friends I was currently with, but good because I was connecting with people I 'know' virtually and sharing and getting ideas. (And - let's admit it - pretty cool that I could do it on the beach!!)

Canopy Life at the beach w/iPad
I did not blog - the one thing I managed to control.  However - I felt extreme guilt that I was not blogging, since it's now been well over a week with no post. So - this is a bad impact of social media on personal life - the guilt.  I don't know about those of you who blog or tweet or Facebook, but I personally feel a constant sense of guilt if I am NOT posting regularly.  And the funny thing is, I don't really know that anyone besides me cares that I don't post - heck, I don't even know if there are people out there reading what I write or are interested in what I have to say, but I feel a sense of responsibility to post, and when I don't, I feel guilty.  The fact that every day I think about what I could post to Twitter or Linked In, and that I am constantly, in every aspect of what I do, thinking about whether it would make an interesting blog post or tweet, means that social media is impacting my personal life on a daily basis.

My conclusion - social media definitely impacts personal life.  How much is up to the individual person. And whether it's a good impact or bad impact depends on the situation, the time, and the reason.  Social media and the folks you connect with via social media channels do become part of your personal life, so it's a matter of balancing the live experiences with the virtual experiences and knowing when to disconnect.  Balance is the key and clearly I need to work on my balancing act!

3 comments:

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endy smith said...

Thank you for this article. I completely agree with you, because the influence on the private life is very big. Thank you for creating this article site and for publishing it. Now, people will have the opportunity to know more.