After years of pandemics, civil unrest, natural disasters, and economic uncertainty, what red-blooded grant writer or fundraiser wouldn’t want to curl up on a comfy couch and scroll away for a few minutes to escape the stress and practice some self-care? You deserve it.
After all, you’re probably being told to write more, ask more, and work more with less time, money, and fewer team members. You deserve to check out titillating celebrity news, bad TikTok dances, designer slime recipes (no judgment here), and book recommendations—all right there, literally at your fingertips, on your smartphones. It’s free, often entertaining, and helps you stay connected to friends and family while you unwind from demanding jobs helping to transform communities in need.
Except it doesn’t.
What if I told you that the things you think are helping you relieve stress and become more productive are actually doing the opposite—stealing your ability to focus, relax, and recharge? That social media is a misnomer—all the apps we scroll through dozens of times a day exist to keep our eyes on the screen, not on the world around us.
Before you think I am auditioning for a role in the Matrix movie with my cryptic warnings, I want you to know two things.
- I’m not sure what I wouldn’t do to meet Keanu Reeves, but I don’t see this blog post as the best way to achieve that.
- I didn’t take any red or blue pills, but I’ve recently been down a rabbit hole of social media distraction and lived to tell the tale. I clawed my way out of that comfortable, warm rabbit hole and into some cold, hard facts about social media.
If you want the gory details, check out the latest episode of Fundraising HayDay (Get More Productive By Doing Less (podbean.com))where I break down my “hare-raising” trip down the TikTok rabbit hole. (I couldn’t resist). It started with me wanting to connect with readers and writers of Young Adult (YA) fiction, particularly historical mysteries, and maybe post some videos about it. It ended at 3 a.m. one night as I realized that I needed to get up at 5 a.m. to smack down some deadlines and that I had been scrolling for more than four hours. Let’s say that I didn’t feel refreshed from my marathon episode of “self-care.”
I am the crustiest, oldest Gen Xer around—I never had a Facebook or Instagram account, but I am somewhat active on Twitter and LinkedIn. I walk, practice yoga, read incessantly, and meditate (poorly). In other words, I hardly represent the ideal demographic for TikTok, and I don’t avoid all social media. After deleting the app and doing some research, I learned some things:
- People much smarter than I am are devoting their lives to designing apps and algorithms to keep me glued to the screen.
- Tech companies are making billions of dollars off their free apps. That’s because you are the product. Don’t believe me? Check out the new book “Stolen Focus, Why You Can’t Pay Attention and How to Think Deeply Again” by Johann Hari for some eye-opening research and detailed investigation featuring industry insiders.
My recent social media misadventures may have you thinking I am a ridiculous elderly Gen Xer with little self-control. It’s true that I no longer keep potato chips in my house and have often considered a pint of Ben and Jerry’s a single serving. But if infinite scroll and instant notifications bewitched me, think of what it’s doing to children who have grown up with smartphones and tablets.
Whistleblower Frances Haugen, a former product manager at Facebook (now known as Meta Platforms), released thousands of company documents last year that she said described the company’s failures to protect teen girls on Instagram and clamp down on vaccine misinformation, among other alleged wrongdoing. And she’s launching a nonprofit to seek solutions.
You deserve and should practice self-care. But make sure that what you turn to isn’t making the situation worse.
Y’all be careful out there!
DH Leonard Consulting & Grant Writing Services, LLC is so excited to be season 5 sponsors for Fundraising HayDay, a podcast about grants and such. Catch up on seasons 1 – 4 and stay up to date on the new season here.
Don’t let grants stress you out, check out the helpful grant writing services our team has to offer here.