The Dangers of Social Media Imbalance

by Brett Borders on January 25, 2010

Social media is quietly forcing an integration of “work” vs. “play” into the mainstream business culture. Networking and socializing used to be quarantined into special times and locations – like conferences, power lunches, and parties. But now virtual cocktail hour and watching cool videos have been integrated into our desktop, inbox and phone with apps and constant reminders that keep us distracted connected.

Social media is forcing an integration of work and play, in business. image: Mike Oleveri & Rev. Xantos

Some companies, consultants and HR administrators are stubbornly resisting social media as an encroachment and liability. And others are guzzling the social kool aid until they’re blasted out of their mind… and then drowning after jumping headfirst into the deep end of it.

The Dangers of Too Much “Work”

Working hard doesn’t always mean working smart. Especially in the fickle, light-speed digital era. Grinding away on a product or project without being dialed into up-to-the-minute news — and without being closely in-touch with the people in your market (a.k.a. “community”) — can be less productive than smoking bong hits or making paper airplanes.

  • You’ll miss connecting with ideal partners, employers and clients. If you’re too busy filling out T.P.S. reports and thinking of your bosses needs more than your own, you’re bound to miss out on some amazing people and opportunities that could have unfolded.
  • Your professional brand will fade into obscurity. All that blogging, Twittering, commenting and networking does help you “stay afloat” in the noisy world and remind people you’re still alive and in business. Without enough social media pulse, people may forget about you.
  • You won’t be able to predict the future.If your nose is always pointed at your inbox and it’s never sniffing about for interesting new trends, you risk becoming obsolete very quickly.
  • You’ll burn out and suffer productivity loss.If you work too much and don’t integrate it with a little bit of fun and spontaneity, you’ll wear down your batteries and the work you complete will be dull and uninspired.
  • You won’t get “big ideas” or see “the big picture.” Sometimes all those funny stories, random links and technological chit-chat can all add up and stimulate your mind towards a huge personal or professional epiphany.

The Dangers of too Much “Play”

The myth that enthusiastic social media use will — somehow, someday — lead to success + profits is quite pervasive. It’s kindled by a few highly-visible “rockstars” who appear to spend most of the day Twittering, partying and flying around to speak at conferences – and they make it seem so easy. But in reality, they’re just as rare as professional surfers whose day job involves riding waves on exotic islands while getting their picture taken. For 99.9% of people who surf, that’s just a pipe dream.

  • You’ll get too consumed with doing favors for other people. The more people you have in your network, the more you get “sucked in” doing favors that will help them but don’t pay any direct dividends for you. You can easily spend all day scratching people’s backs and not watching your own.
  • Your stress and anxiety will rise.Procrastinating your profit-producing work to take care of all your endlessly-time-consuming social media obligations can be very stressful. You can dig yourself in such a deep productivity “blackhole” that you’ll keep distracting yourself as an anesthetic, rather than climb out and get back to all the work you’re behind on.
  • You’ll become jaded. Too much indulgence in social media chatter and events is like eating too many frosted chocolate doughnuts. You’ll become sluggish and clouded, and you’ll be too stuffed with “junk” to notice the few rare gems that pass right on by you.
  • You’ll never make your “big idea” actually happen. Social media can give you great ideas, and it can also take away the time and focused attention you need to make them a reality.

Social Media Success = Vigilance, Self-Awareness and Balance

Social media unlocks both a multi-verse of new opportunities, and a minefield of new opportunity costs. The freedom and choices granted by social media tools come with demands for more responsibility: being accountable and self-aware about how you spend your time. And being clear about your goals and staying focused on the specific people and tasks that will help you achieve them.

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Brett Borders, the author of this article, is a professional copywriter who specializes in increasing website sales and signup rates. I'm available now to write for your website and optimize it for maximum sales and profits. Please contact me now for a free consultation.

  • http://dannybrown.me Danny Brown

    Great points, Brett. The time suck that social media becomes is something many people don’t take into account. The “normal” activities – tweets, Facebook status, LinkedIn group questions, blogging, etc – is costly enough time-wise.

    But then you start digging deep into a social media audit, and all the hands-on dirtiness that that takes you into, and you’re talking hours and days just going into research. Then the strategy begins…

    Adding fun on top of all that? Oy vey.. ;-)

  • http://www.wchingya.com wchingya

    Balance – easier said than done, but no doubt the best way to make social media work efficiently. I believe Brett had everything covered, just wondering what is really preventing us adhering to the right attitude when there’s too much work. How do we de-clutter our thoughts and convincing us to stop when need to?

    Think we need to finetune both our mind and body if bloggers need to have a healthy, long life, on or offline. :-)

    @wchingya
    Social/Blogging Tracker

  • http://www.awebguy.com/ Mark Aaron Murnahan

    I recall a time a decade ago when I was in a merger and my wife demanded that I have more fun and do something to break away from my work. Interestingly, it was her company and my company that were merging. It reminded me that without a balance that I am worth far less to anybody involved in my life.

    My balance comes in the form of a lovely wife, three kids, and great hobbies like auto racing, motorcycles, and some occasional sunshine.

    What makes my job great is not the work, the money, or the TPS reports. It is that I have a balance that makes me very human.

    The TPS report is on your desk, but don’t ask me for a coversheet!

  • http://www.medxcentral.com medxcentral (Jim)

    ok.. right after I find balance in life.. I look for balance in my online activity. (I hope the humor is understood here.) :-)

    Balance has always been the most important target I can aim at… and the most elusive.

  • http://www.makemoneyontheinternet.com/ Make Money on the Internet

    Good points Brett. The way I like to deal with social media time spent and work is that I think of it like if I were back in college. You can only study (work) for so long before the efforts of your studying slowly begin to diminish. After this sets in it’s important to take a short break to take your mind off the activity that’s beginning to bore you (studying or work).In any case, I do agree that shutting down social media entirely is the worst strategy a company can take.Chris Guthrie

  • http://feint.me feint

    I think balance is really important. I don’t think I’ve got it right yet – I still have days where I feel burned out

  • http://socialmediarockstar.com Brett Borders

    Danny,

    I hear you, man. Just staying connected and staying on top of what’s happening is enough for a 50 hour week. Add in another 30 for doing the work that pays!

  • http://socialmediarockstar.com Brett Borders

    Wchingya,

    In my vision, having a health online life means being focused on one particular thing… specific niche or area… and not too focused on trying to be everything to everybody!

  • http://socialmediarockstar.com Brett Borders

    Mark,

    Part of me wants to believe that if I “burn the candle at both ends” and sacrifice my life now, then eventually it will pay off big time in the future.

    And part of me believe that if I burn myself too hard now, I won’t live a happy life.

    My number one priority for now is getting married, and it’s difficult to meet people and make time for them with a 70 – 80 hour workweeek… so I am going to sacrifice work hours and projects for more of a social life. I haven’t been blogging much recently because I want to have a weekend, and I usually would write content all day on sunday!

  • http://socialmediarockstar.com Brett Borders

    feint,

    for me, on most days when I am doing a lot, I feel “burnt out” – I am definitely a work in progress!

  • http://socialmediarockstar.com Brett Borders

    Chris,

    I definitely pushed myself the too hard the past 2 years of college. I used to work 7 days a week and it would fog up my brain and make me unproductive and unable to retain as much information. I started taking Friday night and Saturday (the Jewish sabbath) off and it made a world of difference.

    Social media provides one of the more distracting temptations that office workers and computer folks have ever been faced with! I’m living and learning how to manage it , rather than let it consume me.

    A big part of it is trying to focus on what activites and relationships will make me money or move my closer to my own goals, which (probably) won’t – and investing my time accordingly.

  • Splendid

    I love this! I myself am a worker I work all the time I got my first job when I was 14 when I turned 16 I then was working 2 jobs at once everyday of the week (including Saturdays and Sundays). And I haven’t stopped working since. I constantly am working or thinking about working… I was once an avid facebook and myspace user but deleted both when I, of course started working, haven’t had one since… I am sincerly burned out. I’m still young though so there is still hope, but I have tried to stop working and I can’t. The desire to take on more than I can handle and work myself to death was built into my bones and can’t ever stop. It’s just who I am. :|

    But! it does not mean I can’t enjoy a wonderful post like this! :)

  • http://digitalmarketing.mehtainc.com/ shreya mehta

    I am agree with all this point mentions by Brett Borders. He has write such a good article.

  • http://tommy.ismy.name Tommy is my name

    It’s funny, this is the 4th post in 4 hours that talks about using time wisely when doing your social networking… I think what it really comes down to is using your filters wisely, and making the most effective use of your time. Knowing who is going to provide value to your own learning and who is only going to waste your time is a huge part of how effective you’ll be in the long run.

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  • http://www.searchengineoptimisation.com/social-media.html Jack

    I assume that social media demands time and actual networking as well as participation to get the benefits, so pint is valid in the post to use time towards correct social media work

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