Being Social In Spite of Social Media

social mediaBy: Marianne Reid Anderson

I have to admit that the phenomenon of social media has been very good to me. I have reconnected with long-lost family, friends and colleagues, been kept up to date with news, photos and progress, and have even increased my career opportunities. Social media made all this possible for me without ever having to leave my home office.

However, I have found that it is making me something of a recluse. Social media is addictive and is enabling me to stay connected with people without ever having to enter into real-life social situations. It creates an incredible comfort zone especially since I am naturally shy. Social media enables me to socialize but only via a computer or SMART® phone. These devices provide me with the time to think about my response instead of having to react or think quickly of what to say.

Sounds like a dream come true except for when I actually have to be in a social situation and talk to people. Then, I realize that I am shyer than ever and any social graces that I may have had at one point have completely flown out the window. It had happened so gradually that I didn’t even realize I was having a problem until a dear friend took my husband aside and told him I needed to get out more.

Well, that was enough to spur me into action. I came up with the rule that I would go out and have a real conversation with someone at least once a week. I am happy to report that I have kept to this goal and am getting back into a social existence, much to the relief of my family and friends. So, if you are like me and spending a little too much time with the computer as a go-between, I have compiled a list of ways to remain social in spite of social media:

Get Involved – I started going to church and to local alumni get-togethers, looking for ways to volunteer that did not require too much of a time commitment since I work full-time. For example, summer is festival season and every church or neighborhood needs volunteers to help organize, promote and participate in bringing the festival to life.

Library newsletter –I signed-up for the e-newsletter of my local library. Libraries today are no longer just the place for quiet study and where you get shushed for being social. Instead they offer many book clubs, film clubs, guest speakers and a host of other events to participate in and meet people.

LivingSocial.com® – yes, it’s a web site but it offers tons of coupons and savings on places to go and things to try, from special rates on tickets for shows and events, to restaurants, facials and spa services, historical tours, excursions and hundreds of other exciting options for getting out and about. It is also ideal if you find yourself in a rut and need to try something new.

Meetup.com® – this is a non-dating site, instead “Meetups are neighbors getting together to learn something, do something, share something”. Basically, if you have an interest, then so do other people, and so meetups enable people to get together and share the interests they have in common. There are meetups for everything under the sun, including hiking, crafting, technology, geocaching, languages, travel, dining, and much, much more. Meetups are also a great way to network for finding new positions or increasing your skills for your current career. Many meetups have guest speakers and events and some even have sponsors that offer food or beverages for free or at a reduced cost. If you are interested in creating a meetup, www.meetup.com emails invitations, tracks members, lists sponsors, etc. Meetup.com is really worth a look.

The above list contains my current recommendations for staying social in real life, but I will keep you informed as I find new ways to maintain real-life social skills.  Meanwhile, if you have any recommendations for me on how to remain social in spite of social media, please post about it on Northern Connection magazine’s Facebook page or email me at manderson@s4nets.com.