For the past week, I’ve been actively avoiding something, and it has taken more effort than I’d like to admit.
No, it’s not adult beverages. While I’m not a teetotaler, I am a surgeon. Early morning procedures and late night blog post writing don’t lend themselves to indulging in adult beverages in the evenings.
I’m talking about being social.
Not with the neighbors.
Not with the family.
Not with other physicians.
Not with the book club, the bridge club, or the soccer moms.
I’m talking about connecting with my “friends” on social media.
I admit, I have a complicated relationship with social media.
It’s fun to keep up with what my friends are doing. I give them a thumbs-up for a new promotion; commiserate when their pet is sick; thank them for the perfectly timed quote in the morning’s newsfeed.
The connections are what make social media meaningful.
Then there are those other times. You know the ones I mean. The times when I have a project due or an email I’m dreading to send. And I think to myself: I’ll just take a few minutes to see what else is going on.
It’s like I’m living in a high-rise apartment with a beautiful view outside. But, instead of seeing the panorama, I’m standing at my door, squinting through my security peephole, wondering if anyone is going down the hallway. Isn’t it? A little bit? Like that?
Yes, I waste more time on social media than I’d like to admit. More time than I do on the things that actually give me pleasure, or even a bit of entertainment.
The truth is, scrolling through social media has become a filler. Sort of like bad TV.
So, the question is: Why?
Why do we waste our precious free time scrolling through Facebook, Twitter, and the numerous other distractions out there when we could be connecting in real time?
How can we avoid staring at our phones, reading about how other people are living their lives?
Shouldn’t we be living our lives in 3-D instead?
A solution that works for my family and me is this: We pick one day a week (preferably a weekend day) and stay totally offline. We don’t check our email; don’t post on social media; and we don’t text anyone.
Instead, we go for walks; we enjoy old-fashioned conversation; we sit at the table for a meal and share funny stories of what happened over the past week.
Instead of spending time “Liking” what random friends say and do online, try to spend time with the people in your circle who matter most to you. The ones with whom you are happiest. The ones you can hug at the end of the day. The ones you will miss most when they’re gone.
Today, let’s make a conscious choice not to fill the void with tissue and duct tape.
Make those fleeting, free minutes count by taking occasional breaks from social media. Use the open time to step into the real-life connections that truly matter most.
The ones that mean more than a “Like” on Facebook.