Balancing Learning and Being Present

My Relationship with social media

Growing up, I was just as caught up in social media as the next person. My family was always so busy, running on different work/school/activity schedules that we would rarely even sit down and eat dinner together. It wasn’t until my younger sister’s boyfriend (now husband) slowly encouraged us to have family dinners together – without our phones. I remember he would get so upset (and still does) if someone would check their phone or take a call in the middle of our dinner conversations. Eventually, under his strict supervision, our family dinners became quality family time.

This is something I have considered doing for myself while working to increase productivity!

I have noticed that if my phone is beside my while I’m working on anything that needs to get done at my desk (school work, correcting, or lesson planning), I am far less productive than I would be without my phone in sight. I often find myself procrastinating on Instagram, Facebook, or Netflix if I feel like I need a break or I’m just not motivated to continue working. Not only that, if my phone is beside me, screen facing up, my thoughts are continuously interrupted with all kinds of incoming notifications. I don’t feel like I need to have it beside me at all times, but I do like to be available if someone is looking for me or needs help. For these reasons, I have been trying to reduce my habit of simple scrolling through feeds, if I don’t have anything to share or if I’m not looking for something in particular.

I work with a colleague at school that is always checking his phone at any given moment of the day. His second job is largely based on interactions with his Instagram followers on social media, which is partly why he checks his phone every five minutes. Even still, we’re always asking him to put it away during lunch and to be present in our conversation. We find it quite frustrating, when we try to include him in the conversation, only to notice that he has tuned us out as he scrolls through messages. I have already noticed that I am repeating his behavior when I choose to look at Twitter at the wrong time of the day. Just last night, I was trying to catch up on what’s been going on with our #eci831 hashtag, except I chose to do it while over at my parents for dinner. It was the most silent dinner we’ve had in a long time, and although I knew it felt wrong. That was the only down time in my day that I had to check in with our Twitter conversation. Unfortunately, my brother-in-law wasn’t present to set me straight!

Part of me loves the networking and connections that can be made through Twitter, but it has never been a platform that I have fully committed to using. I feel overwhelmed with the amount of notifications I receive which makes it hard to keep up with. I suppose the major difference between Twitter and Instagram/Facebook is the people I follow. With Facebook, I only add my friends and close acquaintances. Even now, my Facebook friend list is much longer than I would like it to be, so every now and again, I will go through my list and unfriend a number of contacts. I like to keep my contacts small and manageable in numbers, so I am only sharing personal information with a select few people. For Instagram, it began with only following friends, but I am slowing expanding the number of people I follow based on personal interest. If ever I see a random post about something that doesn’t interest me, I will likely unfollow that account to filter the posts that come through my feed.

Twitter on the other hand is a whole different world. I was introduced to Twitter when I was accepted into the Connected Educator program with my school division. I immediately followed the 100+ educators in the program and began feeling overwhelmed with the number of posts I wasn’t able to filter through. Rather than feeling like I should know the people in my Twitter community, maybe I should focus on their posts and what they have to offer.

As part of our Connected Educator program, I made my first sketchnote this summer based on a reading requirement for our professional development. I was shocked to see how many people it reached including the author of the book in question: Katie Martin. It even reached George Couros, author of “The Innovators Mindset” which was my required reading last summer. This post really made me aware of the power of networking and something special that Twitter has to offer.

I am hoping that this semester, I can approach Twitter in a more balanced way. Right now, I’m imagining scheduling Twitter into my day, just as I would schedule doing school work. That way, I can hopefully manage my school work and separate that from invaluable family time that I have worked so hard to prioritize over the last ten years. I am sure it’s possible, and I am really excited to make my social media experience (Twitter in particular) a positive learning experience this semester.

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