In one part of my life, I immersed myself in the study of people adapting to online tools and how it affects their communication and behavior. In the other, I studied all of the different ways people can improve their physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health.
Over time, I’ve noticed learned there is a strong connection between these two topics — namely, they aren’t compatible.
Spending a lot of time online, particularly on social media, is not a great way to improve your health, wellness, and happiness. In fact, it’s been linked to a host of health problems like postural issues, depression, anxiety, relationship stress, eye strain, ADHD, and sleep deprivation.
The research supports what I’ve seen in my own life and what I’ve observed and heard anecdotally among friends who are heavy social media users. None of them talk about social media being a truly healthy, joyful component of their lives anymore. Instead they describe it as a place where they walk a careful tightrope, trying to balance between between connection and education, hostility and hacking.
The phrase many of them use to describe social media? “Garbage fire” — a place where everyone’s baggage is thrown together and ignited with the goal of attracting attention.
Sometimes the heat it generates is helpful. Sometimes it is toxic.
It’s an environment we both thrive and wither in.
If you’re like me, you know it’s too late to grumble “Bah, Humbug,” sledgehammer your router, and go live in the woods with a rotary phone.
Many of us want the garbage fire in our lives.
How then do we stay connected to the fire — walk in it daily even — and not get burned?
I believe the first step is to start acknowledging that yes, social media is a great place to make money, spread information, and reach new people. However, it may also be a place that can be unhealthy for us physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.
If we want (or need) to spend time wandering in the garbage fire each day, we need to start taking some protective measures (and define what those look like). We need to talk about ways we can wander and search more mindfully. We need to start proactively adding restorative practices to our lives that can fill us back up when we get invariably depleted online.
These are all topics that have been on my mind lately, and I’m interested in exploring them more in future blog posts. However, I’d like to hear your thoughts first. Is this a topic you think about? Do you struggle to find balance? Do you ever get burned?
I’m a consultant, strategist, author, educator, and speaker with more than 30 years of professional experience. I’m passionately curious, fairly sassy, kinda dorky and seriously good at what I do.