"Life begins at the end of your comfort zone."

~Neale Donald Walsch~

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Do you suffer social media exhaustion?

I have had several conversations with colleagues and friends lately about the lack of time people feel they have to keep up with all aspects of their lives. It appears that social media is deeply rooted now into our culture and staying connected can be stressful and addictive for some and exhausting for others. Being connected all the time doesn't have to be burdensome provided that you set yourself some boundaries and remember that it doesn't control your life.

Image by Marish at bigstockphotos.com
There are many ways to stay connected with loved ones, friends, colleagues or business associates and it is really up to the individual to decide how much of their time they are going to devote to social media. Facebook has certainly revolutionised the way we communicate and there are countless cases of how is has been used in terribly negative circumstances such as cyber bullying leading to suicide. However for the most part social media can be used for good and provided you don't use it as a venting device then there are some really beneficial outcomes if you use social media to enhance your connections with people. I've listed my top favorite social media sites and why and how I use them to encouage others to consider that it doesn't really take a lot of time to stay on top of what's going on in your networks.

Blogging: I started my blog just over two years ago. I wanted to improve how I write and primarily I wanted to use as a reflection on where I was at with my teaching. As my blog developed and I found people were actually reading it I then discovered that I wanted an opportunity to have a voice in the educational sphere and comment on how policy, technology and social changes were impacting the students that I taught and were they having an impact on the way I was teaching?

I continue to blog because not only does it allow me the opportunity to reflect on my teaching but it allows me to move out of my space at work and connect with other teachers who may also share the same thoughts or sentiments in relation to the teaching in their classrooms.

Facebook: I stayed away from Facebook for a long time because I couldn't see anything positive that was going to come of it. After spending some years researching and observing I fianlly jumped on the band wagon. For some years now I have told my students that they can compartmentalsise how they use social media. If they just want to use it for work they can or if they are keeping things social keep boundaries on who you connect with. I also talk about being mindful about what you put up and remember there are some things in life they should always stay privae. So taking my own advice I set some clear boundaries for myself and at the moment I am using Facebook for only people I know and would still have regular contact with outside of Facebook. However I have seen how businesses are using Facebook and I would likle to spend the Summer setting up an Educational Facebook page for my business and see how that goes.

Twitter: By far Twitter has been my favorite and most used form of social media. In some ways Twitter saved my from feeling disconnected and alone as a casual teacher and open up new relationships with teachers that I never imagined possible. Twitter has connected me with some of the most amazing teachers and individuals and whilst you can only say what you need to say in 140 characters I have developed some wonderful relationships based on these short conversations. I have used Twitter to connect and network with teachers and only use Twitter for work. #ozengchat on Tuesday nights continues to be my regular chat and I have been greatly enriched by the sharing of this group. I don't generally tweet anything to do with my private life.

Linked In: I was a little dubious at first about getting on board with Linked In and thought it was a bit gimmicky however I have really changed my mind abou this. I have found that Linked In is not only a great net working tool but contributing to converations, groups and just having information available about conferences has been really helpful. I have found that whilst I don't spend a lot of time on Linked In when I do get on there is always something interesting to discover.

Mashable: I stumbled across Mashable a few years ago when I was looking at other social media sites I could link in with and I find that Mashable gives some very general and interesting information about what is going on in social media. I find it as a good resource to get a feel for what people are talking about. If you looked at it from an anthrolpological point of view it would be like being a fly on the wall for what a group of people are talking about in a given space. Whilst there are millions of people that use social media there are also a lot of people who don't. So social media isn't always representative of what the population think about a topic. However I do find it insightful and I like to know what people are thinking about on a range of topics.

So these are my top 5. Whilst I do use some others I find these would be the ones I spend most of my time on. The great thing about social media is that you can use it a lot or a little. You don't have anyone standing over you telling you when and where you need to do it. I admit I have spent less time this year using social media because my work committments increased however adandoning it because I didn't have time would have destroyed all the work I had put into establish relationships and connections and these were too important for me to loose.

I'd love to know what other forms of social media others are using it and how they are using it for work.

So this is my last week at TAFE until the holidays and it has been a mega year. This year I taught on four new courses that I hadn't taught on before, was a course coordinator, started my Graduate Certificate in Adult LLN, was elected onto the board of the Central Coast Campus friends, was secretary for my daughters Girl Guide Unit Support Group, lead a Youth Group at Terrigal with my church and helped run a youth band and raised my three kids and yet I still found time for social media.

So be encouraged. Make time for social media and if it gets too much take a break and then come back to it. Some one will always be around to connect with you when you come back online.

Until next week,

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