It’s the beginning of November and I haven’t written a blog post since the end of June. For those of you who have followed me, you may have noticed I went pretty quiet on social media in general. Initially when the pandemic hit I found social media to be a lifeline of connection to my career and to the movement community. I threw all my energy and time into getting myself established teaching online, and then helping my colleagues to do the same. I spent hours every week in zoom meetings with others in the industry. I’d churn out hours and hours of admin work, on top of hours and hours of online teaching. I burnt out, rested, then burnt out again. And then did it again a couple more times.
In August we moved to a new house, where I had to set up a new teaching space in a very basement-y basement, laying down new flooring, painting, and scrubbing the walls with a white vinegar and clove oil mixture to get rid of the musty smell that lingered from some past moisture related incident.
And then homeschooling started back up in full force. My ten year old son doesn’t do well with online class instruction- it makes him exceedingly anxious and not terribly productive- so I had to take on all of the teaching myself. Navigating the coursework, keeping him on a schedule, and also keeping the household running smoothly with all of us working from home took more hours of the day than I’d imagined it could. I’d fall into bed at night exhausted and feeling I still hadn’t got it all done.
But now that my son is getting a bit more independent with this course material, and now that we’re settled into the new house with the studio space all set up, and also seeing that it’s going to be quite a bit longer until we’re through this pandemic, I’m feeling ready to begin to emerge a bit from a state of semi-hiding out.
As I re-enter social media life I’m seeing that I need to do so very cautiously and intentionally. Before I dropped out for this extended Facebook/Instagram hiatus I was diligently posting movement photos and videos everyday, consistently building a following, and feeling pretty good and in control about the whole endeavor. But one day in late June I realized I just couldn’t bear to video myself moving. Thoughts of having my partner do another casual photoshoot of me for my posts brought on waves of anxiety. Even engaging in professional discussions in various Facebook groups felt overwhelming.
But I know that social media is crucial to maintaining connections with my students and colleagues, and that when I’m managing it well it can actually be very rewarding. The question is how do I reintegrate it into my life without letting it rage out of control again?
Clearly I don’t have the answers to this worked out, but I’ll share with you my current strategy- and I’ll keep you posted over time as to how it all works out for me.
1. Be selective. I had started to feel the need to reach out on whatever platforms I thought maybe perspective students might be using, reactivating my twitter account and setting up professional Pinterest boards, all on top of the Facebook and Instagram accounts I was managing. Now looking back I can see this is where my social media tolerance began to wear thin. Now I was getting notifications from four or five social media platforms and so my attention was being continually depleted. It’s clear to me now that I have the most connections on Facebook and Instagram. These are also the platforms I feel most comfortable using, so they drain less mental energy to keep up. The others I can simply let go.
2. Schedule it. I’ve realized that my previous tactic of just catching a few minutes of video recording here or there, snapping a photo when I had a moment, and writing a blog post when the mood struck isn’t going to work in these overpacked, exhausting, non-stop days. Now when I have a free moment I just want to drink a cup of coffee and listen to a few minutes of a podcast instead of pushing myself towards more productivity. I know now I have to block it off in my schedule- even just five minutes to video some movement when I’ve just finished teaching. Instead of trying to make time each day to get a photo or two, I should really be blocking off 20 minutes twice a week for my partner to take as many shots as possible, then I can use them later, spacing them out over a month or so. And I can’t just wait until I feel like writing to start writing. I have a list of several topics I want to cover, so it’s not as if I’m in need of inspiration. I just need to plan to write when my son is at soccer or having a break to play outside, whether I feel like it or not. I know that once I get started I’ll get into it and get it done.
Also, I know that if a have a trove of material ready to share I can make use of my Planoly account and line up a couple weeks worth of posts on a designated afternoon (while I have my coffee and listen to my podcast, of course)
3. Balance intake with output. Just because I’ll be posting regularly again doesn’t mean I have to be consuming social media at the levels I was. While it’s an important social media guideline to be engaging regularly with your networks, it doesn’t mean I have to be on there multiple times per day. I think that if I choose a few groups to follow closely, and then set aside time every other day to read through posts and comment and connect selectively, I’ll be able to maintain connections without overwhelming myself. To help with this I’ve turned off all my social media notifications so that I only relate to Facebook and Instagram during the times I intend to do so.
4. Look out for other attention drains. I’ve realized recently that the amount of political and promotional emails I’m getting has been on a massive increase. Getting control of my social media is really just a piece of managing my overall communication and information flow. It’s clear I need to take a portion of an afternoon and overhaul my inbox. The same goes for political and promotional text messages, which are flooding in these days. By replying STOP as soon as any of these texts come in I’m hoping to eliminate all of those unnecessary distractions. Each little alert that comes up is like a mental weed springing up in my head, until soon my mind feels overgrown with thoughts and distractions I’d never intentionally let in. It’s clearly time for some serious weeding.
So this is where I’m going to start. I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one struggling with these issues, especially now.
Hopefully if I can implement these structures around my social media usage I’ll be able to engage in a way that’s more productive, consistent, and, most importantly, much healthier.