When life trumps social media life

Sledding

Yay, insomnia! The only time I can find to blog. I’m hoping this post will accomplish a couple of things: 1) Explaining to you, my small-but-super-loyal blog following where I’ve been and 2) applying a little balm to my chafed ego which is longing to spend more time blogging, but just can’t get there from here right now.

I started a new gig two-and-a-half months ago, as many of you know. I’m now VP of Account Management and Digital Strategy at Meyer and Wallis, a 42-years-young agency with offices in Milwaukee and Indianapolis. In a nutshell, this means I bear ultimate responsibility for all of our agency’s Milwaukee-office accounts, research, strategy, planning, and digital projects, in addition to a major role in new business efforts. Until now, I’ve had little or no empathy for people who use the “I just don’t have time to blog, tweet, insert other social media verb here.” excuse. Now, I totally get it. I still work in as much social as I can, but I recognize that I am barely scratching the surface of what I could, should, would like to be doing.

I should be blogging here at least three times a week, doing the same on our agency blog, tweeting for both a heck of a lot more than I am, and so on. I should be reading and commenting on more blogs. I should be a lot more active on Facebook and LinkedIn than I have been. I should be playing with Posterous, and a whole bunch of other tools. I finally managed to prioritize playing with FourSquare just this week. That Google Wave invite? Been sitting in my inbox for months. I feel like I could take a week off just to catch up on social media and digital experience reading at this point. And I definitely should be using/editing video (hence the new flip video camera that Santa will be bringing me this year).

But here’s the rub, folks. Social media is really fun, really educational, and really good for your ego, but…it’s still not real life. It’s sorta like real life, and obviously you can interact with people that are in your real life. But, the bigger question is: how many of you manage your life around your social media life, instead of the other way around?

I may permanently eliminate my chances of ever sitting at the cool kids table in the cafeteria for saying this, but if I have to make a choice at times between an hour with my kid or an hour blogging, there is no freaking contest. Go to yoga class three times a week to take halfway decent care of myself, or spend three more hours online? No contest. Take my son sledding not once, but twice, on Sunday, or catch up on reading? No contest.

Believe me, I am all about passion for what you do and going above and beyond to make it happen and all. I truly do admire the much-more-high-profile-than-I social media folks who seem to manage to find the time to do it all. But the ones I know well are also pretty exhausted and asking themselves: when is it enough?

When does life trump social media life? In my world, the answer is “Always“. Do what you can do. Push yourself, within reasonable boundaries. Find what works around your life, rather than making yourself crazy trying to cram tiny bits of life in around your demanding social media calendar.

What say you?

  • Bob Fichtner

    a voice of reason and a breath of fresh air! i don’t think most people intend SocM to take over their lives. when you first start out, you try to obtain things – followers, subscribers, etc. but like most things, after a while, the shine wears off, other things vie for your attention and you have to make choices. in my hobby (singing), we have a saying – God, family, work, hobby. for some, SocM is a hobby. for some, it is work. but it still is 3rd or 4th on the list.

    • admin

      Thank you, Bob. I like your saying/list of priorities. For me, the shine hasn’t worn off social media at all. There’s always something shiny. And you’re right, most people don’t intend for it to take over, but it’s easy to let that happen. It’s why there are support groups and organizations for technology addiction. Sometimes, the comfort of the online community can be easier than real life. But, at the end of it all, we’re not measured by how many followers or subscribers we have. We’re measured by our humanity, our kindness, our generosity. Right now, I measure myself by my ability to keep a smile on one little boy’s face as much of the time as possible.

      Happy Holidays!

      Sue

  • http://www.digitalsolid.com Jeff Larche

    Your priorities make a hellofa lot of sense, Sue. It’s the same reason I have been scarce on social media (unless I too have insomnia, as some may have noticed. :-)

    I think your decision not only makes sense for selfish reasons (family and yogo both feel great!), but for professional ones. Some of the worst online community citizens — and executives — that I have known have been those who tipped way out of balance.

    As usual, a terrific post. Quality always will trump quantity. That goes for both blog posts AND social media face time.

    Enjoy your weekend. I most certainly will! ;-)

    • admin

      That’s a great point, Jeff, and I definitely agree that when I take the time to do the yoga, and stay more in balance, it pays off professionally. For me, it’s really the only way I can keep the stress of spinning many plates in check, and stay focused. (And the only way I can keep from becoming a raging bee-otch. Just ask my boss.) I’m hoping for more of a blend of quality and quantity in the future, but for now, I accept and appreciate the kind compliment. Do make the most of the weekend.

      Sue

  • http://dianecharno.com Diane Charno

    Funny, I’m way behind on my blog reading and manage to come across this tonight :)

    I agree, social media will and should take a back seat to real life. But at the same time, we’re always trying to stay a step ahead with emerging media.

    I’ll keep striving for that moderation and life/work balance. You should definitely keep up the yoga. I’m sure that helps you find that balance.

  • Linda Neff

    While you’ve shared with us that it’s not about being he smartest person at the table, I want you to know you are the smartest person at the table! Thanks for reminding us that we must constantly re-evaluate priorities and that the real magic happens not in the declaration of re-prioritizing, rather the doing of it.

    May you and all of your readers enjoy every peaceful and chaotic moment of this holiday season!

  • http://www.annabarcelos.me Anna Barcelos

    Ohh Sue, I can so relate! I’ve been at my new company now for six months and anticipating a full-speed ahead in 2010. At the same time, there are the social media responsibilities that I committed to both personally and professionally that I haven’t quite lived up to myself.

    I’m thinking about 2010 and actually putting together a more realistic plan (personal and professional)for social media. I am unsubscribing to blogs I hardly read. I am allocating specific times to blog and going to try to manage this like clockwork. 2010 is the year of reality and simplicity for me. I have learned a lot this year and at huge time costs. But it’s a good thing because I’ve learned how to keep it real as we move ahead.

    And in no way, shape or form will I ever replace/sacrifice/prioritize any of these things over my family. They always come first.

    So go sledding and act goofy with your child. Turn your computer off and read a book. Keep going to your yoga classes.

    You know why? BECAUSE IT’S OK :-) (Although I do miss seeing you around!)

    • admin

      Thanks, Ladies. Anna I like your plan of allocating specific times to blog. I’m not sure if I can live up to that, sometimes inspiration strikes at the most inconvenient times, and then doesn’t strike when you actually have time. But like you said, all we can do is “keep it real as we move ahead” and do the best we can. And it’s nice to hear someone else say “It’s OK.” Thank you for your support and friendship : )

  • http://www.sametz.com/roundthesquare Tamsen McMahon (@tamadear)

    Ah, social media, that daily exercise in letting yourself down.

    The key for me is to be as true as I can to my own pattern, not that of other people’s. Perhaps I’m deluded, but I think those that trouble themselves to pay attention to what I do realize I go in fits and starts that are highly dependent on both work life (clients trump social media, always) and real life (with which, as you say, there’s no freaking contest).

    That’s why it’s good to read posts like this that remind me I’m not the only one who thinks that way…. Thank you, Sue.

    • admin

      Haha. Daily exercise in letting yourself down indeed. Social media is like Christmas – it always seems like there should be more, more, more. And we have to learn to appreciate what we have. You are definitely not deluded, in fact that’s a great observation. Those of us who know you and what you do love it regardless of whether it happens as “on schedule” as it should. In fact, we’re all so caught up in our own whirlwinds that we mostly don’t realize when someone else is “lagging” behind where they might want to be. Less pressure. More fun! Have a great holiday Tamsen and thanks for always being here. Hoping I get to meet you IRL in 2010!

  • http://zeek.com Jeff Turner

    My wife “forced” me to take Sunday off from all computer activity a long time ago. At first it seemed like quite a sacrifice. So much to do. So little time. I can’t remember exactly when I stopped feeling like it was a sacrifice, but at some point it did. I now consider it a blessing. Some experiences simply can’t be recreated online. I know my kids would agree.

    • admin

      “I know my kids would agree.” Pretty much hit the heart of it right there, Jeff. Little people grow up fast. And for those that don’t have little people, life goes awfully fast nonetheless. Social media definitely enhances it, but definitely doesn’t recreate it. Thank you for stopping by.

  • http://www.tommartin.typepad.com Tom Martin

    Sue

    A damn fine reminder and a great post to start the new year. I think you, like a lot of us, struggle with finding the time. They key is to find strategies that allow us to connect online during down times — I love all the social media apps for my iPhone — like walking to my car or waiting for yet another meeting to start (late).

    Other than that… sleep deprivation seems to be the #1 way to play in both the online/offline world. ;-)

    @TomMartin