Finding Balance: Our Relationship with Technology and Social Networks | Beth’s Blog

Finding Balance: Our Relationship with Technology and Social Networks

Mindfulness, Networks, Online Community

Photo by Beth Kanter

I’m just back from a few days mostly offline in the Point Reyes National Seashore area to walk along the beach and appreciate the beautiful views and nature.  Taking an Internet or technology break is important, especially if you live a constantly connected lifestyle. (It isn’t easy at first)  Above all it helps you examine your relationship with technology and find balance.

We’re all struggling with balance of technology and a purposeful life.  We need to reflect inward and examine our motivations, patterns, and use of technology – understanding when we’re mindful and not.  Then we need to integrate ways of finding the right balance.  That balance is not a simple on and off switch – it is understanding how to integrate focused and receptive attentions into our online and offline lives.

There was spotty cell phone reception, so I got my news the old fashioned way – reading a newspaper!    Ironically, one of the shorts I read was a piece about how people are now spending more time on Facebook than Google.

Even though I was “offline,”  I couldn’t completely escape reminders of how social networks have become a part of our lives.   Browsing the local cheese shop in town, there was an invitation to join their Fan Club on Facebook!

Once over the Golden Gate Bridge and connectedness restored I noticed this post from Melissa Ford over at BlogHer in my Facebook feed – “Is RSS Dead?” about Bloglines closing as of October 1st.  Melissa admits that she clicks through on links from her friends on Facebook, Twitter, and elsewhere, but finds reading RSS her main way of keeping informed.   She wonders if she is out of synch with others?

I also noticed this link shared by my business partner, Geoff Livingston about the implications of consumers spending more time on Facebook than Google.     Geoff wrote a must-read follow up post talking about how communicators must not forget the importance of community building on social networks.

This left me some reflection questions:

  • How do you balance a connected lifestyle with being purposeful?  I’m particularly curious about those of us whose work involves spending a lot of time online.
  • How do you resist the urge to treat your networks like “consumers” or engage solely in transactional interactions versus building relationships?

10 Responses

  1. Thanks Beth for this blog – I spend a lot of time online with my job. I may be slightly unusual though because building relationships is my aim so I can live my life on purpose. I choose to use social media to raise global consciousness on ways that empower individuals to be authentic and live sustainably. I find it hard to switch off! I did manage a whole two days this weekend in Milford Sounds, New Zealand without my mobile phone or laptop! It was very good for recharging my batteries. I hope I can maintain more of a balance now Im back. Any tips?

  2. Rich Foss says:

    Beth,

    Great post. I’m planning two weeks in Florida in October. I’ve noticed that when I disconnect from work for two weeks, I return inevitably deal with organizational and sticky leadership issues in a much more creative fashion.

  3. hi beth

    to me, all the time i spend online is time “yakking across the fence” as jenna wortham so descriptively calls it in an article in today’s new york times

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/13/technology/13search.html?ref=todayspaper

    and the essence, or balance, of it all is that, yes, we are people who talk to people but we really value what friends think over what everybody thinks.

    so i like to build my friends across the fence the old fashioned way, one at a time. and to be appreciative, not overwhelmed of the time and effort invested whether through facebook or face time.

    the perfect balance in life than to be in service to others and to be a friend.

  4. Thanks for the great post Beth.

    I too was stunned by the “RSS Death” news. I read my feeds daily, and they’re my main source for news.

  5. I’d like to thank AT&T for helping me achieve more balance. By making it impossibly hard to replace my lost IPhone, I lived cell-phone…er, smartphone…free for an entire month. What I learned was how much time I was spending being connected to technology instead of enjoying time with those people and interests that I had cultivated over the years.

  6. Beth,
    I appreciate the post. This is something I”ve been working on a lot. As a mom of a 3 year old and an 8 month old I’ve found myself struggling to balance my work, which requires a lot of time online, with spending meaningful time with my kids, my husband and myself. I’m certainly guilty of parenting while iPhoning. I’ve found that taking a “secular shabbat” once a week–that is, forcing myself offline for 24 hours–is the only way to truly reconnect with my family and myself. As a family we’re increasingly drawing those boundaries–no devices at the breakfast or dinner table, closing the computer down at a certain time each night.

    It’s a trend that I think more people are gravitating to, or at least wanting to gravitate to, though as you mention, it’s really hard at first.
    Offlining (www.offlininginc.com) has some clever ads and offers people the opportunity to pledge to 10 Device-Free Dinners by Thanksgiving. And the Sabbath Manifesto (http://www.sabbathmanifesto.org/) has a guide and a cell phone sleeping bag.

  7. John Powers says:

    It’s very embarrassing to admit that I’ve let Gmail become unmanageable. I have never used Google Reader effectively, preferring to continue to use Bloglines. I’ve moved over to a client RSS-reader, Liferea, and like it’s simplicity very much. “Different strokes for different folks” but a feed reader is very useful to me. I do enjoy Facebook and Twitter and follow links there. Dave Winer says “blogs aren’t conversations” that’s one reason that RSS-readers are so useful. But I don’t agree with him that it’s the subscription model that’s a problem with RSS-readers. Blogs may not be conversations, but they are enduring relationships.

  8. Rick Austin says:

    Beth:
    As our web activities at KTExchange.org (http://www.ktexchange.org)have expanded further and further into social media, I’m finding myself on the verge of info overload. I’ve got all these interesting tidbits floating around in my head, and I can’t remember where I got them from. This post was a useful reminder to step back… Thanks.

  9. Elle D'Coda says:

    The quest for balanced web-work…loved finding this post this morning. I live at a yoga retreat where we’ve just started discussing offering folks a “Geek Yoga” week to accomplish just this! (www.circleyogashala.com)Thanks for your great blog, its become a regular read and I often refer folks to it on Amplify.

  10. [...] Find balance and don’t quit when you begin to feel like you “are walking through a desert, hoping desperately for an oasis.” [...]