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A Social Media Cleanse

May 15, 2012

Come on. You KNOW you want one. Or two. No more than a handful…

This morning, I walked past an open bag of those kettle-cooked potato chips–heaven in a white bag. And I walked past them again. And again. And again. They’re on the counter between me and the washer and I’m doing laundry today. And each time I walk past, they talk to me. Not like David Berkowitz’s dog. Instead, they say, “One chip isn’t bad for you. And you know they’re good. And you can stop at one.”

Like all good lies, the voice’s call contains a strong element of truth. The chips are amazingly good. And one chip would not compromise my fitness and nutrition goals in any meaningful way. But I won’t stop at just one. I’ll probably finish the bag, then go to the store and buy two more–they’re buy-one, get-one this week–to replace the one I polished off. My wife likes them, too.

Instead, I don’t go near the chips. I don’t even touch them. They’re a distraction that take me away from my goals, which are productive and useful in this case.

Sort of like Facebook.

If you write on a laptop and you aren’t stranded in East Hicksville, you’ve probably started out hoping to write and wound up looking at the phalanx of cute kitty pictures with stupid endearing quotes written on them. Or playing Farmville or MafiaWars or Words with Friends (in my case, Words with Acquaintances). I mean, just one little look isn’t going to hurt your goals. It’s fun and you like it. And you can stop with one little look.

It’s the insidious nature of the words that gets you. If the dog starts telling you to kill someone, you say, “Uhh, no. And get the hell off the bed.” But when Facebook calls…

Some friends of mine are doing a super-duper diet cleanse, called the Beachbody Ultimate Reset. For three weeks, they’ll eat healthy foods–a vegan diet for two of the three weeks–along with taking supplements and doing other healthy-diet stuff. No cake. No beer. No donuts. No kettle chips. Not even any coffee.

Seriously, they can’t drink coffee for three weeks. Can you imagine?

One of them has already dropped 2% body fat in week–the healthy equivalent writing 10,000 words.

So what about a ultimate Facebook reset. The author JT Ellison gives up social media for Lent each year, allowing herself only Fridays online. She says it’s very useful.

Maybe something to consider.

  1. May 15, 2012 11:37 am

    Your post is definitely something to ponder, Chris. As an emerging writer I hear the admonition to create a vigorous on-line presence BEFORE expecting a published to choose me. I am mindful, however, of the snack-food appeal of social media. Occasionally when I’m struggling with a sence, plot twist of sticky piece of dialogue, I escape to FB, Goodreads, etc. “Just following good advice … generating an active on-line footprint, ” I fib to myself.

    I resolve to be honest and call a rose a rose. Sometimes playing in the social media arena is only that. Playing.”

  2. celticadlx permalink
    May 15, 2012 1:57 pm

    …and sometimes it’s good to take a break and refresh. But it’s SO true, you have to know how to stop at “only one” and that’s where self discipline often falls short. Great idea about food and social networking. This morning I got up at four am and literally feasted on blogging and my “social” network. It’s amazing to not feel guilty (because it wasn’t my usual writing hours) and I came away in a great mood, ready to take on the day and my WIP. I didn’t feel I’d procrastinated, didn’t feel I’d stolen time from my WIP. I wish I could wake up at four am more often without it taking me down the next day! Still waiting for the sleep deprivation to hit! I do, very often, use my “online” time as my carrot. “Get three hours in on that WIP and you’re free to go!”

  3. Mary Ann de Stefano permalink*
    May 17, 2012 9:28 am

    I like celticadlx’s idea about using social media as a carrot, but I’m also thinking about doing a one-day-a-week social media cleanse when I don’t use it all. Even though social media is important for my business, one day off wouldn’t hurt, would it?

    What bothers me most is how strong the draw is and my Pavlovian response to pings and beeps. (Long, long ago I quit smoking when I realized it had control over me, and I didn’t have control over it.) So I’m trying to be very conscious of the pull that social media has on me, really feel it, and then not respond to it. Well, not every time, anyway. My dog wants to chase every squirrel she sees, and there are lots of squirrels in our neighborhood. But do I have to chase every squirrel? Surely I can train my mind not to respond to every possible distraction.

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