Social Media: Heaven or Hell?

Sunday, January 11, 2015 4 Comments A+ a-

Hey there, CafĂ© patrons! I’m writing from a booth at Applebee’s, where a refreshing glass of moscato sits nearby and the Packers-Cowboys playoff game is blaring from every television. It’s been a full, if not terribly productive, day. Done lots and accomplished little, thanks to my weird relationship with Facebook and Twitter.

And that brings me to a subject I’ve been wanting to write about: how the INFJ deals with social media interaction.

As some of you may know, I recently read and reviewed Jennifer Soldner's book, "A Look Inside A Rare Mind: An INFJ's Journal through Personal Discovery." A small segment is dedicated to her thoughts on social media and what she thinks of it. Her first sentence sums it up pretty well:

Social media is like my daily answered prayer meets my daily hell.

Anyone relate?
Jennifer goes on to talk about the dual nature of social media--how it can be both a blessing and a curse for the INFJ, who needs interaction with others, but also time alone to recharge. It’s something we struggle daily to balance:

Social media offers us the perfect platform to reach so many people and have human interaction at our fingertips whenever we crave it. Yet, it also thrusts us into a 24/7 life of dealing with people. 

I totally get this. As a writer, I want to entertain and inspire others with my words, so I rely on platforms like Facebook and Twitter to reach people. This satisfies my desire to connect. Even as an introvert, I still need social interaction.
But here's a problem: for the INFJ, interactions are time-sucking, energy-robbing little demons. Enjoying them doesn't change the price they exact from us. They wear us out. And it doesn’t matter if the other person is talking directly to our faces or posting a comment from halfway around the globe. If we're responding, we're leaking energy. 
As if that wasn't enough, we're perfectionists. We're driven to respond thoroughly. Completely. Perfectly. Giving less than our best is not acceptable, even with small things. That tweet we sent might be 140 characters, but you can bet we spent at least ten minutes composing it and another five checking it for punctuation and spelling errors.
Then there's our compulsive need to respond to every social media request, as well as text messages. We feel like we're sending the wrong message if we don't respond (thoroughly and completely and perfectly), so we work hard to stay in touch. But this can get really distracting. Post, tweet, message, like, text, favorite, repost, retweet, like, text again. It's never-ending and keeps us from focusing. Personally, I find it difficult to work when my iPhone is constantly dinging with Twitter alerts and text messages are bombarding me like a swarm of angry bees.
(By the way, I've responded to five tweets and three text messages since I started writing this post.)
Jennifer’s issues with social media revolve around the overwhelming desire to help as many people as she can. I definitely relate. Sometimes I want to hug the whole world! And on top of that, I want to nurture relationships, grow readership, and encourage others to follow their dreams. All without falling into exhaustion.
Hmm. How do we manage this? How do we respond and empathize and encourage and inspire without completely draining ourselves in the process?
One thing Jennifer suggests in her book is limiting connections:

My connections are kept at a manageable amount which, while not completely releasing me from my anxiety, makes me a more productive member of the social media community. 

I think this is an awesome idea. If we keep our connections at a manageable level, we can use our superpowers to help a smaller group of people. Fewer people means greater devotion. We don’t end up spreading ourselves too thin.
I also feel like we need to set firm boundaries. This is especially important when you're establishing an online presence and can't put as many limitations on your social interactions. For me personally, this means building a few fences. Not to keep people out, but to keep myself in a place where peace and recharging are close at hand. I'm learning to use the Do Not Disturb feature on my iPhone. I'm closing my e-mail application to avoid social media notifications. I'm teaching myself to respond with simple thank-you's and encouraging words instead of emptying my entire thought process into a comment or post. And I'm trying to set aside small chunks of time where no electronics are allowed, so that I can rest...instead of being in "react" mode.
This is a process, and it won't happen overnight. But I do think it can be done. Successfully. :)
Okay, it’s your turn. Do you have issues with social media? Is it a nightmare for you? A double-edged sword? A blessing in disguise? How do you recharge when the outside world presses in a little too close?
Let me know! 
(P.S. While I was blogging, my hubby and oldest son dropped by the restaurant to help me indulge in some gooey chocolate dessert. Exactly the kind of inspiration I needed to wrap this up, lol. Cheers!)


Write comments
Colin Machan
January 12, 2015 at 10:30 AM delete

Great post. Yes, totally agree.
I try to limit my Facebook interaction to a couple of likes a day and the broadcast of a quote that I found useful that day. People still tag me into photos but I use FB's privacy settings to review each one and limit rebroadcast of photos that are too embarrassing. For me.

January 12, 2015 at 12:00 PM delete

Same here. I have all notifications for FB turned off so that I don't see anything until I log in, and I don't allow tags unless I've reviewed them first. Keeps things private and contained.

Twitter's a different ballgame. It gets pretty conversational and is tougher for me to manage. Still learning. ;)

Thanks for sharing!

About Me
November 5, 2015 at 10:50 AM delete

great post. I'm 50-50 on this as it is a blessing and a curse. I myself enjoy taking random pic and post in on instagram and I would follow people who has interesting picture to share but sometimes it gets too overwhelming when a person post too much of selfies which is something I hate in general and furthermore when I read other too much random complain or negative post inside a blog or twitter , I just delete the app as I feel it is better not knowing at all because I believe certain things you dont need to share to the whole wide world to know.

June 18, 2016 at 1:18 PM delete

This makes a lot of sense to me. One day I got so overwhelmed with Facebook I had to make the decision to just never go on it.. It just made my anxiety levels too high being accessible 24/7. But I keep it there because I don't want to completely drop off the world.