Linkage Love: Social Media and Relationships

by Anitra Cottledge

I had a conversation today over IM (yes, I still use IM) about social media burnout. Yes, social media keeps us connected personally and professionally, but sometimes you just can’t. One person too many uses Twitter as though it was a blog written in 140-character installments, and you just feel like you want to pull your own hair out. How much can we be invited into other people’s thoughts, experiences, kitchens (“Hi, I just boiled an egg.”) and lives before all the information comes oozing out of our ears?

So sometimes I experience social media burnout, and by the end of that conversation with my friend, we had both come to the conclusion that we were taking a 30-day break from social media, or at least thinking about it. (As for me, my social media use will be greatly reduced in July due to travel.)  The inspiration for our discussion? An article called, “How 30 Days Without Social Media Changed My Life.” The author Steven Corona says, “The benefits were immediately apparent. With a mind free to wander and explore, I started to create things, to make moves, rather than suck down a never ending stream of information.”

That article and the conversation I had made me think about Jess’ recent post about productivity. Are we more productive when we use less social media? At a certain point, the narrative was that technology was supposed to streamline our lives, make processes more efficient. (Those of us who wish we could clone ourselves just to answer our email may challenge that narrative.) However, we do know that some technology makes some things easier. So where’s the “just right” between too much and not enough technology? How does technology and social media use affect our friendships, our productivity and creativity, our mental health, our very views about what it means to be human?

A few links to explore:

How Depressed People Use the Internet

If You’re Consuming Too Much, You’re Creating Too Little

Social Media’s Small, Positive Role in Human Relationships

The Facebook Resisters

What Is Our “Hybrid Reality”?

Linkage Love: Social Media and Relationships

Does our constant connectedness kill our creativity?

by Jess Faulk

Commuting. Walking. Waiting. We are never alone.  We have angry birds, plants vs. zombies, and Facebook to keep us company. Whether we are sitting completely alone in a room, or waiting in a room full of dozens of others, our phones are our pacifiers and our safety net.  If you have 20 minutes until the next bus comes, you don’t fret because you know you have something to occupy your time.  If you are caught in a space with people you don’t know, you don’t have to reach outside of your comfort zone and awkwardly talk to someone else, you just pull out your phone.

I know you have heard it all before.  Pundits tell you to unplug from technology.  Authors write about how it is hurting our ability to get work done.  We feel guilty for being allowing a dependence on our techno gadgets.  It’s easy to rationalize our relationship with technology (and specifically our smart phones) because you see so many others around you with the same approach.

I am no different.  I never leave home without my iPhone in my pocket and my iPad in my purse.  However I read an article a while back that planted an idea in my head that has been eating at me.  Does our constant connectedness kill our creativity?

As a techie, your mind probably does the same thing that mine does – instantly defends the stance that constant technological connectedness ENHANCES our creativity.  We share ideas, we build communities, we are exposed to new perspectives!  What could be bad about that?

But consider this; what did you used to do in all of those moments commuting, walking, and waiting before you had a smartphone?  Daydreaming, list making and absorbing information about your surroundings.  You were taking in the world in a different way.  Perhaps it was just to see an exciting new font, a shoe style on the person next to you that reminded you to call your brother, or read a magazine that had an article that spurs your next blog post.  The article I read proposed that without these moments of daydreaming, the unstructured time in our lives not invaded by videogames, facebook, and TV shows, we don’t allow ourselves to make the random connections that become a fully formed thought, which in turn can become an idea that leads to a true creativity.

I am not proposing that we cut all technology out of our lives.  I am certainly not suggesting we throw out our smart phones (my iphone isn’t going anywhere!).  I am simply suggesting that instead of pulling out a smartphone the next time you are on the subway or waiting in line, you consider using those precious minutes in your life to just take in the world around you and see what creative moments it might inspire.

Note: I do want to acknowledge that I am writing this article aimed at the privileged folks in student affairs who are able to afford a smartphone and other fancy pieces of tech.  If you are not one of those people, consider my article as a good way to rationalize enjoying this freedom from the smartphone world, and how much more thoughtful you have the potential be without the distraction 🙂


Does our constant connectedness kill our creativity?