Putting Social Media in the "Friend Zone"

Social media has its teeth locked into the world. The ability to legally stalk people (I mean it's called “following") and potentially be famous tugs at our natural instincts. Every wolf wants to follow the alpha and one day either mate with it or become it.

This is the where I join the scene: obsessing over the professionals in the productivity space and trying to create my own tribe of productive people and provide as much value to them as I possibly can. These things are great but the “value” that I am trying to bring cannot be achieved worrying about the reach that my content will have.

So why do I do it? Why do I enroll in follower management tools to track the growth and decline in my popularity. Why do I think about "buzzwords" and "SEO optimized" traffic.

Because I gauge the value of what I create based on what others think of it and not my satisfaction of it.

That needs to stop.

Breaking up with Social

How many times have you heard “I’m quitting (insert social media platform here)!”? (Which they feel compelled to post on facebook instead of just disappearing.) This unhealthy reliance on social media will often lead to someone saying they are quitting the stuff for good! I said it to when I dropped off of facebook for more than a year to focus on my community and podcast (and Twitter).

It is virtually impossible to "eliminate" social media from our lives. I have given up on ridding my life of social media. Now I am here to "Define the Relationship" (DTR).

The Friend Zone

I had a crushes on two of my closest friends. The first was in middle school. I didn't reveal this to her until after I had moved away and knew that there was no chance in Hell that we would ever be a "thing". The second time was my senior year of high school. Unfortunately she had a thing for another friend of ours and he reciprocated that affection. Both times I heard the phrase that no pubescent teenage boy want's to hear.

"I just see you more a brother"

While it was awkward at first and our friendship did my friend's eyes. I would forever be Just a Friend.

Just Friends?

Friend Zoning Social Media

Do you let your friends, interrupt your time at work? Do you let them take you away from things that you really want to just enjoy. Do you let them get in the way of your career and your passions. If you do, I would suggest setting boundaries with them first and then continue reading.

When you define the relationship that you have with social media, you it's control over you away. If you are jumping on Twitter and Instagram to connect with your friends, why not put the entire network in that zone.

Here are a few ways to help put social in the friend zone.

Have One Place that You Hang Out with Social Media

Some friends you just can't take to the library with you and others you don't ever take to the bar. NEVER! You love your friends but they can tend to make a fool out of themselves (and sometimes you) in certain areas.

Treat social media in this way. Decide to only check social media at home. This allows you to enjoy the moment without the interruptions and excessive notifications. Don't even keep the app, on your phone. Afraid you are missing out of something. In fact they are missing out on your amazing experiences. If you want to capture the moment to share with your friends, I recommend you take photos and upload them later. If you have a witty thought to tweet. Save it in an application like Drafts App and share them with the world you get home.

Make it an "Us Only" Date

My brother-in-law and I will occasionally get dinner together. Some days we get monster wings or slices of pizza topped to the brim. Other days, we stop at the nearest Burger King and eat $1.50 Chicken Nuggets. No matter what is on the plate, we take time and just talk. We catch up with each other. We crack jokes and talk about things going on in our lives. It has become something that we often feel needs to happen. It is a special time for us. When we leave the restaurant, we feel energized and ready for the upcoming adventures ahead.

There are going to be times when we need the support of our social network. I suggest creating designated times to jump online and #justbesocial. Get involved in a weekly twitter chat or join a community that revolves around your favorite tv show. If neither of those things sound fun just tell yourself "after dinner I'm going to catch up with my friends.

Make this a sacred time where you absorb yourself into your network. When it's done feel happy and re-energized, but content until the next date.

Set healthy boundaries

Do you catch yourself spending 15-20 minutes in the bathroom scrolling through Instagram and losing track of time. Do you often feel restless and "too awake" at night before bed. Just like when your mother would make you get off the phone after 9PM, it's time you set some hard, but healthy, boundaries.

Make rules for yourself about when it is not the "right" time to be social. Here are a few of my rules.

  • When eating dinner with my wife, I can't be on social media when she's at the table.
  • No more technology after 10:15 except for Youtube watching with my wife before bed. Even then, only funny videos.
  • No consuming social media when hanging out with others. Posting is okay but anything other than that is just rude.

If you have problems telling yourself no. I recommend putting your devices into "Do not Use Mode". I use focus to block certain websites on my Mac after a certain time. I also use Forest and SleepTown on my phone to remind myself that I am not allowed to use my phone.

Make New Friends

I love my "online" friends, but I'm always looking for new ones. Meeting new people is fun!

I've also met many more by joining a few local communities. In fact I wrote this post while at a meet up for writers.

Go Places, Meet People, Have Fun

When you do more and meet new people, this reduces the time you spend in front of social media apps. It also makes the time you do spend online more valuable as you strengthen the relationships with those whom you've just met.

Replace your "Bad" Habits with Better Ones

If you have gotten this far you may believe that your social media usage is starting to prevent you from doing things. When I think of something that I should be doing instead of lurking on twitter or in the Facebook group, I stop and immediately start doing that thing for at least 5 minutes. One of two things will happen.

  1. I will struggle to do that thing for 5 minutes and then jump back on social media until the next thought arises.
  2. (More Often) I will work well beyond the 5 minutes and wind up with something that I'm somewhat proud of and then share it on social media for my friends to enjoy!.

This takes me from being a consumer and transforms me into a producer. I'm now using social media to help propel my career instead of stifling it. When I choose to socialize with friends through it, the interactions are more authentic and I have many more experiences to share with the crowd!

Do you remember those professionals that I mentioned earlier. I'm now building actual relationships with them. I'm becoming a professional myself. When I do use social media, it's with a sense of control now the relationship has been adequately defined.