Don't share fake news and other 2017 social media resolutions

It’s the start of a new year and like most people, I feel the urge to release the past and make fresh commitments to how I move forward into 2017. One area in which I’m ready for change is in my use of social media.

Ahead of the New Year, I decided to go on a social media fast and reflect on my media consumption habits. I came to the conclusion that the way I was consuming social media was making me sad, anxious, and distracted. As I head into 2017, I’m committed to transforming the ways I engage online. Because let’s face it, with Donald Trump ascending to the highest office, we’re going to have a lot of outrage to spread around and I certainly don’t want to get burnt out in the process.

So here are my 2017 Social Media Resolutions

“What’s Your Intention?”

The past year, I found myself aimlessly scrolling through my feeds on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. I wasn’t posting, I was just using social media to check out. It became an aimless habit that was sucking up time and energy each day. In the process, I was unconsciously sifting through an endless stream of content that ranged from the simple and mundane to compounded grief experienced by people around the world. My lack of intentionality in how I was using social media made me feel mostly numb in the face of so much violence and grief in the world. Whether it’s the death of Prince or Aleppo being burned to the ground, I never want to be disconnected emotionally because I’m hyper-connected socially.

Inspired by an Instagram post by advocate for better living and creator of @MoreSocialLessMedia, Dallas Hartwig, I put all of my social media apps on my phone into a folder and titled it “What’s Your Intention?” Now every time, I go to open one of these apps I stop and ask myself, why am I going online? How do I plan to engage? Do I need to open Facebook right now? Why?

The folder where I keep my social media apps on my iPhone. The question gives me a chance to stop and check-in with myself before engaging online.

The folder where I keep my social media apps on my iPhone. The question gives me a chance to stop and check-in with myself before engaging online.

Kill the News Feed 

Facebook claims the average person spends about 50-minutes on Facebook daily. That’s almost as much time as we spend eating and more than most people spend doing any other leisure activity including exercise. I want those 50-minutes in my day back. That’s an entire hour I could use to practice a new language, talk with family and friends, read a book and a million other things that would bring so much more fulfillment to my life. Yet, I’m not ready to completely delete my Facebook accounts. I’m an entrepreneur and writer working on a new book. Facebook is still the best platform to engage with people interested in my work. But that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be more strategic about how and when I use Facebook.

One of my tech savvy homies put me on to this extension for Google Chrome called Kill the News Feed. It eliminates the news feed on your Facebook page. Now when I log into Facebook, I can avoid the thousand status updates from friends, unwanted ads, and tragic news headlines. It totally transforms the experience of being on Facebook. I log in, I review my notifications, I post to my own pages, I look into a few of the groups I belong to catch up on relevant content and then I log out.

Don’t share fake news

People read my posts. They share my posts. They comment that they appreciate and look to me as a source of reliable information. I have a small sphere of influence but as it grows, I want to be accountable for the information that I share. So from now on, I’m going to be much more careful about the content I share via my social media accounts. Before I post an article, I’m going to go through the following checklist:

  1.   What date and year was it posted?
  2.  Is this a news site I’m familiar with?
  3.  How do I know I can trust this source?
  4. Has this information been reported on other sites?

In transforming the way I engage online, I hope I can create more time and space in my life to nurture what matters most to me.

What are your 2017 social media resolutions? How will you engage online in ways that are aligned with your values?

 

 

Baldwin on Love

The Harlem Stage Gatehouse has been transformed into a sanctuary for Meshell Ndegeocello's show, "Can I Get A Witness?" I'm here to facilitate a post-show talk about with young people during a matinee performance of the show. The show is inspired by James Baldwin's The Fire Next Time. The show is a heart opening meditation on Baldwin's work.

Sitting inside that sacred space my eyes filled with tears as I listened to Baldwin's voice fill the room, his image projected onto the wall. In that moment, could feel the full weight of my grief; the loss of loved ones, the swift turn toward right wing racism post-election, the hollowness left behind having recently ended things with my lover. It's was hard to feel the presence of love in that moment and then I remembered Baldwin's words: "Love does not begin and end the way we think it does. Love is a battle, love is a war; love is a growing up." And I realized in that moment that indeed Baldwin was calling us to grow up. Because this moment requires something most of us have never experienced before. Love, in this time we're living in, requires us to tell the truth, so we can feel the totality of our pain. Because only in feeling it all, can we notice those spacious outer edges of grief where the light illuminates like a horizon. That is where peace can be found, that is where hope and inspiration lives, and where we discover the possibility for transformation of ourselves and the world. 

This image of Baldwin covers one full wall of the theatre:

Artwork by Mary Olin Geiger for Can I Get A Witness? The Gospel of James Baldwin