Ten Mindful Ways to Use Social Media

Right tweeting advice from @TinyBuddhaLori Deschene

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For the last two years, I have provided a daily wisdom quote through a Twitter account called Tiny Buddha. Since the follower count has grown by leaps and bounds, people have suggested I tweet more often throughout the day. I’ve realized, however, that the greatest lesson we can all learn is that less is enough. In a time when connections can seem like commodities and online interactions can become casually inauthentic, mindfulness is not just a matter of fostering increased awareness. It’s about relating meaningfully to other people and ourselves. With this goal in mind, I’ve compiled a list of 10 tips for using social media mindfully. 

1. Know your intentions.
Doug Firebaugh of SocialMediaBlogster.com has identified seven psychological needs we may be looking to meet when we log on: acknowledgment, attention, approval, appreciation, acclaim, assurance, and inclusion. Before you post, ask yourself: Am I looking to be seen or validated? Is there something more constructive I could do to meet that need?

2. Be your authentic self.
In the age of personal branding, most of us have a persona we’d like to develop or maintain. Ego-driven tweets focus on an agenda; authenticity communicates from the heart. Talk about the things that really matter to you. If you need advice or support, ask for it. It’s easier to be present when you’re being true to yourself.

3. If you propose to tweet, always ask yourself: Is it true? Is it necessary? Is it kind?
Sometimes we post thoughts without considering how they might impact our entire audience. It’s easy to forget how many friends are reading. Two hundred people make a crowd in person, but online that number can seem insignificant. Before you share, ask yourself: is there anyone this might harm?

4. Offer random tweets of kindness.
Every now and then I ask on Twitter, “Is there anything I can do to help or support you today?” It’s a simple way to use social media to give without expectations of anything in return. By reaching out to help a stranger, you create the possibility of connecting personally with followers you may have otherwise known only peripherally.

5. Experience now, share later.
It’s common to snap a picture with your phone and upload it to Facebook or email it to a friend. This overlaps the experience of being in a moment and sharing it. It also minimizes intimacy, since your entire audience joins your date or gathering in real time. Just as we aim to reduce our internal monologues to be present, we can do the same with our digital narration.

6. Be active, not reactive.
You may receive email updates whenever there is activity on one of your social media accounts, or you might have your cell phone set to give you these types of alerts. This forces you to decide many times throughout the day whether you want or need to respond. Another approach is to choose when to join the conversation, and to use your offline time to decide what value you have to offer.

7. Respond with your full attention.
People often share links without actually reading them, or comment on posts after only scanning them. If the greatest gift we can give someone is our attention, then social media allows us to be endlessly generous. We may not be able to reply to everyone, but responding thoughtfully when we can makes a difference.

8. Use mobile social media sparingly.
In 2009, Pew Research found that 43 percent of cell phone users access the Web on their devices several times a day. It’s what former Microsoft employee Linda Stone refers to as continuous partial attention—when you frequently sign on to be sure you don’t miss out anything. If you choose to limit your cell phone access, you may miss out online, but you won’t miss what’s in front of you.

9. Practice letting go.

It may feel unkind to disregard certain updates or tweets, but we need downtime to be kind to ourselves. Give yourself permission to let yesterday’s stream go. This way you won’t need to “catch up” on updates that have passed but instead can be part of today’s conversation.

10. Enjoy social media!
These are merely suggestions to feel present and purposeful when utilizing social media, but they aren’t hard-and-fast rules. Follow your own instincts and have fun with it. If you’re mindful when you’re disconnected from technology, you have all the tools you need to be mindful when you go online.

Lori Deschene is the founder of @TinyBuddha on Twitter and tinybuddha.com, a multi-author blog that features wisdom and stories from people all over the world.

Follow @tricyclemag on Twitter!

Image: James Clar Little. Yellow. Different., (2010) 100 cm x 100 cm Acrylic, Switches, Indicators Edition of 3 + 1 AP



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sarahjones's picture

nice post..

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kimchentham's picture

Excellent article with excellent tips.
Anyway, as someone who is been using social media for the last years, helping businesses gain recognition, I have two more tips for people who look to be recognized:

Personal Branding: Always present yourself to your real name. Every post you publish any Talkback when you respond, any Form that you share, and of course every social community where you take part in, you produce traces that search engines review and present to those who look for you online. Whenever you write content include your full name, and credentials you might have. For example, if you post comments with Nick "superman", no one will know the contents published attributable to you, however masterful.

Personal Positioning: Think about how you want others to perceive you: the content you publish, manner of its presentation, its quality, its scope, its frequency, the presence of its corresponding network etc. To this end, it is recommended to say a personal strategy, one that will help you define who you are and what you are, first and foremost, and then set personal goals / your business. Uniformity is the key word, so it is important personal settings will be final and Mgost. After all, it is your image.kim@barenakedlife.com
(Look at our Facebook page)

Williams Brown's picture

I am going through this post and thinking of it’s theme and trying to understand what is this post about. At last I can have found something from this post which feels pretty good.

Dominic Gomez's picture

"mindfulness is not just...increased awareness. It’s...relating meaningfully to other people": Tweeted like a true Buddhist!

emmawatson995's picture

Indeed! It's really an infiormative sharing regarding to the social media thanks for the whole effort which you made for us.

kevinmarriot's picture

People go mainly a lot on the considerable amount of returns that they receive from their purchases over time. Hence, it is advisable to use social networking sites for long term marketing goals rather than daily goals.

khrystene's picture

Very nice! Shared :)

Deirdre's picture

Lovely article, Lori. Grounding in this age of flurry, flurry, flurry. I agreed completely with Sarah Miller's comment above. One of the best articles I've read on social media in a long time. (that's quoting Sarah!)

agutel's picture

nicely done. made me think about why I use the "check-in" feature of F/B, and download moments to share rather than being with the intimacy of the moment. thank you.

Sarah P. Miller's picture

Lori, this is hands-down the best article I've read on social media in a long time -- perhaps ever! Thanks for your thoughtful and tremendously important "less is more" approach. This is a great reminder I will be sharing with many people right away.

tammy.n.marshall's picture

I learned a lot, thank you for sharing this.

Sharon Saw's picture

Great tips - i've retweeted them :)