Welcome to my 2016 A to Z series on how to establish a meaningful minimum for social media as part of a balanced life. Over the next 26 days, I’ll take a quick look at some of the pluses and minuses of social media and how to adapt it to your own needs and plans.
The first topic I want to discuss is accountability.
I had never belonged to any sort of accountability group until a friend invited me to join an online writing group to practice daily writing. Meetings were held 24/7 in the form of a closed Facebook group.
Despite my belief that such approaches were usually a washout with me, I suspended disbelief and wrote every day, ignoring the voices which said, “This is stupid” and “it’ll never work.”
Months later, when I was on a trip to England, I realized that the accountability of the writing group (we posted our word count daily) had actually made a difference in my life. Finally, I’d developed a daily writing habit.
Now, more than two years of daily writing later, I have a much clearer understanding of how accountability worked for me. I loathed having to post a word count, and felt it was only fair if I read others’ posts and showed an interest in them since they had bothered to read my post and encourage me. It turned out this was a key difference in keeping me engaged, that this little bit of social interaction and the chance to encourage someone else was something I enjoyed immensely. Today, most of my closest writing friends were among the first people I met on that journey. Together, we encouraged each other, demonstrating a principle true to social media, that the human factor is what makes the difference. It seems those of us who engaged with each other most are still close to this day and still maintain our writing discipline.
As much as accountability is good for starting a new habit, it’s also great for breaking a bad one. In a 2015 joint study between University of California, Irvine, and Stanford University, Twitter messages were used between a group of smokers intent on kicking their habit. The premise was simple: members of the study groups retweeted anti-smoking messages twice daily resulting in a 42% cessation rate for one group and a whopping 75% for a second group. One thing noted in the study was that a party-like atmosphere emerged as did group leaders and encouragers who helped everyone in the attempt to go 100 days without smoking. For more on this study, read here.
For a quick list of other positive ways to use social media for accountability in your life, check out this list from Livestrong.
To visit other blogs in the A to Z Challenge, click here: