social media

Are we losing real connection with social media?

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Just yesterday I was talking with my friend at breakfast about how we used to write letters to our friends and family as late as in the 1990’s. We reminisced about the letters that we still have tucked away from friends that we kept in touch with. We remarked on how amazed we were that we took so much time to write many pages about how our lives were going and waited for our friends to respond.

Old Letters:

I recently de-cluttered my old letters and memory items and I kept one whole binder full of them. I was amazed at how detailed the letters were and how heartfelt they were. I found that the friends that I used to connect with through letters (long distance friends) were all now on social media (myself included) and how I felt that I lost a real personal connection to them. I can see through their photos and comments more or less how their lives are going, but these stories don’t encompass how they themselves are going through life and what their dreams, hopes and disappointments are. I miss that real connection to them. When we used to write letters to each other we only focused on one person at a time, writing to them and sharing our lives and also feeling so honored that they personally shared theirs with us by writing to us. Even with message apps like Facebook messenger and Whatsapp I feel that the personal connection is a little lost in the immediacy of the messages.

Real Human Connection:

Even though I am still on social media I have really started to prefer making time to meet people in person for coffee, tea, breakfast or lunch. We have a real human connection over a drink or a meal and we can really be in the present moment with each other and give each other attention. This is real human connection and there is nothing else like it. When you see someone eye to eye, there is a real bond and real caring there.

Connections to long distance friends:

I have been musing about how to connect more to long distance friends away from social media or messaging apps as well. I have many local friends that I try to see once a month or every couple of months. However, I do have some dear friends who are long distance that I want to maintain a deeper connection with. I think in the coming weeks I am going to suggest to them that we write each other letters, emails or set up a Zoom or Skype call maybe once a month to really be able to be in the present moment and connect with each other. I miss really knowing how they are in their lives. I miss knowing all of the nuances and the details that we told each other over letters.

On social media we can get some of the story of someone’s life- the highlight reel as it were. It is a wonderful thing in some respects because we can see places they have been, photos of major events and musings about daily life. However, I think that we really miss the personal details and some of the struggles that our friends used to share with us in a more intimate way. I feel that I am growing further apart from the people that I only see on social media and not through any other medium. I feel that I have to sift through the clutter of so many posts and also advertisements to really see a glimpse of what is going on in their lives. It begins to feel impersonal.

I am beginning to evaluate my relationship with social media as well. I don’t post as many personal things as I used to. I might post something about myself or my family maybe once a month or every couple of weeks because it just doesn’t feel very personal to me. That being said, I have made some very lasting connections in Facebook groups and we have kept the conversation going with other mediums such as Skype.

This week after this conversation with my friend, more than ever I am seeking to see people in person more often, to make real connections and to find ways to communicate more personally with some dear friends who are long distance.

I would love to know your thoughts on social media. Do you feel a real connection there? Do you meet people in person very much these days?

Feel free to comment below on your experiences or email me at:

trista.signe.ainsworth@gmail.com

—Trista

Dealing with Distractions

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We all know how distracting life can be these days. There is email: multiple emails & accounts to keep track of, notifications on our phones, twitter, Facebook, You Tube, Instagram & more! There are so many things that can take our precious time away from us, it slips through our hands like sand. Many times it is not even a question of spending hours on these things at a time; but a few minutes here and a few minutes there really add up. This is a bad habit I am working hard to break in 2018 and because it is such a problem I want to share with you what issues I have and how I am working on this so that I can be more present, relax and do creative things in the afternoons. 

I am a very goal oriented person and love to have to-do lists, intentions and more each day. However, I can be as easily derailed from these tasks and also from just being present in the world and enjoying some true, distraction-free downtime by spending too much time on my phone and on the computer doing things other than writing blog posts or creating menus for my meal service business. It can be so easy to be distracted many, many times a day. 

Full Disclosure- I am so, so guilty of being distracted! I know my danger time to be distracted is in the afternoons. I have usually used up my very best 4-5 morning hours when I work best and I feel a bit depleted. So, it is easy to say "oh, I'll just look quickly at my messages, emails, etc." But, that turns into many minutes. I'll then try to start in on another task and be distracted again. Sometimes it will be a "loop" of checking email, then checking social media, then checking messages and then over again. 

Yesterday, I had gone through this "loop" in the afternoon. However, something changed in me when I head my friend Harriet Morris's podcast The Eating Coach on the Pauly Principle. She explains it very well in her resource section: http://www.theshiftinside.com/pauly/

The basic principle as she explains it is: 

"If you repeat an action often enough it will become automatic and therefore effortless."

That means, if we replace the action of checking our phones with some other activity and do it often enough, then it will become automatic. Later on Harriet gives ideas about rewarding yourself (in this case in dealing with eating sugar or junk food) for stepping away from the craving for 5 minutes. She suggested writing these reward ideas in your journal. So, that triggered me to try it. The craving really did pass in 5 minutes when I engaged in a different activity. 

My list of replacement behaviors are: 

1. Drink tea or water.

2. Color in a coloring page.

3. Put on some hand lotion that I love the smell of.

4. Take a photo with my new camera, test it out. 

+ other short, creative or healthy/fun ideas. 

I began to try this yesterday afternoon and it really worked! I again worked on it this morning and was able to walk away from my phone after turning off a podcast without going into my endless "loop" of checking things. I did a coloring page and also have put on the hand lotion. It smells so good! What great rewards that bring happiness! I also made time to have "art time" with my son. I painted and colored my dot-to-dot picture while he drew a comic with his new graphic pens he got for Christmas. So much fun! We both loved that time together. 

I encourage you to try this for any "impulse" or "craving" you may have to be distracted. 

I will be reporting on my progress with this as well. 

Update with progress: January 12, 2018: 

For most of this week I have been sick with the flu. ( I wrote the body of this blog post around 1 week ago) This illness left me so, so tired! I was not able to do much for many days. As a result, I tended to check email and my phone too much. However, as I am beginning to be on the mend today I am going to stick with not checking social media until lunchtime. I will stick to my time limit and work on using my replacement behaviors. I am aware that it can be lonely working at home by myself and this is why often I check things too often, but I do really, really want to develop better habits so I am going to be working on this much more today. :) 

With lots of care,

Trista