“To enjoy good health, to bring true happiness to one’s family, to bring peace to all, one must first discipline and control one’s own mind. If a man can control his mind he can find the way to Enlightenment, and all wisdom and virtue will naturally come to him.” – Buddha
Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Instagram… Social media is everywhere. Always one click or one tap away on your computer screen, your smartphone, your tablet, and now even around your wrist or embedded within your eyeglasses. Social media is not only intrusive, it is also fun and addictive. But is it useful? Or is it detrimental to your personal development? If you are determined to achieve high productivity and reach your life’s goals, should you simply avoid social media or could you leverage it to your advantage?
First, the dark side of social media
If you check out this interesting infographic on “why social media can be bad for your health“, you’ll find out among other things that:
– Social media is a massive time drain for many people;
– Social media affects self-esteem;
– Social media disturbs sleep;
– Social is very self-centered.
The list could go on and on; but you probably know all of this and even have experienced it first-hand. We have already discussed the topic of time drain in another blog post on watching television. It’s obvious: how much can you really achieve while on your smartphone broadcasting yourself and flattering your ego?
Well, we’re perhaps getting a little cynical here. So let’s try and find out if there is more to it than just vanity and wasting time.
Then, the bright side
So let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater! First, social media can only be harmful when you let it be so. If you use it with discipline, you will make it your tool, and won’t become the tool yourself. Don’t forget, you’re the master. Once again, it’s all about self-control. Don’t eat the marshmallow!
“Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment.” – Jim Rohn
Social media can have many benefits when used appropriately. We are social animals after all and rely a lot on each other to learn and teach, collaborate and share work, defend ourselves from danger, care after the more fragile ones, etc.
Here are some of the positive facets of social media:
1) It helps you stay in touch with people you care about. Perhaps not the first circle -we hope you give them news directly-, but the second one which is also fairly important (it’s called “the strength of weak ties”; watch here a good and short video about it).
2) It allows you to encourage your friends when they need it or get support when you need a boost yourself to drag you to the finish line.
3) It allows you also to ask questions, learn useful things and share stuff that will benefit your network.
4) It gives you that nice little gratification when you share a meaningful achievement with others and get a pat on the back.
5) It helps spread the inspiration to do remarkable things.
And finally, some practical advice
To harness the power of social media to your advantage, consider the following tips:
- Social media doesn’t come first. It only comes after your more important to-dos are done. Have regular days completely off social media.
- Be mindful of your time, don’t waste it (perhaps you should fix a limit for the time you spend on social media, e.g., one hour a week).
- Don’t use social media to brag or complain (and please don’t share pictures of each and every meal you have!).
- Choose the right communities. Join social media platforms (or sub-groups within these social media platforms) that are related to your aspirations.
- Avoid associating yourself with “negative” people. Connect instead with those who inspire or motivate you.
- Consider goal-oriented social platforms such as runkeeper (running), mapmyfitness (fitness training), loseit (weight loss), busuu (language learning), and of course goalmap (everything).
- Stay focused. There is a lot of noise on social media, avoid the information overload. Just get and give what is useful.
“There are many things of which a wise man might wish to be ignorant.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson
Just like money, social media isn’t the root of all evils. It can be harmful if used pointlessly, and powerful when levered smartly. If you get sucked into it and become a social media puppet, it will be the root of many failures. If instead you’re the master and make social media your puppet, it will be one of the most powerful weapons in your self-actualization arsenal.
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