Wick Communications

Social media fatigue

In Communication on 14 Jul 2016 at 4:24 pm

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A curious thing happened to me in the wake of all that big national news last week. I got tired of it.

Now, normally, I’m a news junky. I have notifications set on my phone. I have spent a lifetime wanting to be the first who knows something so that I can tell someone else. News is baked into my DNA. If you are reading these words, I suspect you are the same way.

That used to be a sustainable lifestyle. The newspaper came out once a day. Maybe you watched the nightly news on television. There was a news cycle and you were free to do the laundry or feed your cat or watch “The Price is Right” until the cycle came around to the top again.

That’s changed, as you know. I learned of the two police shootings (in Louisiana and Minnesota) via social media before I saw anything from a professional news source. The Facebook livestream of Mr. Castile’s death was particularly surreal given the videographer’s otherworldly calm during the event.

I worked the iPhone heavily in the wake of Dallas. I checked the Dallas Morning News site, which was largely pushing its own tweets in the early stages. But I also looked at my feeds on Twitter and Facebook and Instagram to get the latest news. …

I think it was Kevin Hart’s heartfelt take that made me stop doing that. There was nothing wrong with what the comedian said, it’s just that he seemed to be one of, well, everybody who had a take on the day’s events. I. Just. Couldn’t. Read. Anymore.

It turns out there is a name for this: social media fatigue. Google the term and you will see there is a ton written about it, mostly by other sufferers who are just sort of sharing the experience. (I found this one among the most interesting.)

The obvious answer is to just tune it out for a awhile. Frankly, I don’t have a better answer myself. It’s not necessary to watch every angle of every protest that occurs 1,000 miles from home. You don’t have to listen to Chelsea Handler’s YouTube rant about the news of the day in order to be an informed citizen.

But what about our professional obligations? I confess that sometimes I have to force myself to keep up my newspaper’s social media presence. Sometimes I just don’t want to spend my Sunday posting pictures from a parade. So what do we do?

Enlist help. In an ideal world, you might have really savvy professionals who know your brand and message and are uniquely qualified to push forward your goals. Well, we don’t live in that world. The social media feeds of your organization probably shouldn’t fall solely on one or even a couple individuals. You’ll have a more diverse feed if you involve different kinds of people in your organization. And it won’t be one guy’s responsibility 24/7. It just can’t be.

Schedule stuff. I used to be completely opposed to scheduled social media. Totally. It struck me as contrived and not responsive to the nuances that occurred during the day, nor to the way the those platforms functioned best. I still think it isn’t the best practice, but done in a smart way, I don’t think it is a bad practice. For instance, I schedule a series of tweets using Hootsuite throughout the week every time I update the web. Takes about 15 minutes, maybe. And that way I have a regular stream of stuff that isn’t dependent on the news of the day.

Call it a night. For me, the barrage of social media can be particularly overwhelming past a certain time at night. I turn the thing off by 9 or 10 unless absolutely necessary. There is actually research about the blue light emitted from your phone and how it keeps you awake. And if you aren’t sleeping well, it becomes a cycle.

If you are feeling overwhelmed by the news of the day, you are not alone. Tell me how you handle it.

Clay

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