I like the term ‘slow social media’ because it draws reference to the slow food movement that moves away form fast food and goes back to savoring and appreciating food.
What Is Slow Social Media?
I learned about slow social media this past week. It calls for people to not like or share posts out of a reflex, perhaps only after reading the title or headlines or barely skimming an article or post, but to actually take the time to read the post or article. Slow social media means slowing down, paying attention to a post, and sharing or liking it only if you have genuinely liked it or thought others would be interested in reading it.
We live in a fast-paced hyper-connected world. It is mind-boggling how much time we spend on social media and yet how little attention we pay to it. I include myself in that group of people. Even though I believe I am a mindful person, I fall into the trap of wanting to be up to date on so many things that I myself do not always pay full attention to what I like or share. I am not the most active person on social media, and feel shy about sharing things about my life or myself, whether in social media or otherwise. Thus, I have always thought a lot about what I post about my personal life on social media. But, the same does not apply to how I interact with other people’s posts. I have fallen prey to skimming or barely looking at other people’s posts properly before liking or sharing them.
I learned about slow social media this past week from Waylon Lewis and the team at Elephant Journal. Waylon Lewis is the CEO and Founder of Elephant Journal, an online publication that focuses on mindful living and covers a range of topics including green, wellness, food, spirituality, yoga, and many others. I have followed the publication for a number of years and have recently started an apprenticeship with them to better learn how to portray mindful living online.
1. Slow Social Media Respects Journalism
Elephant Journal also has a channel on YouTube, and Waylon Lewis mentioned that slowing down to pay attention to posts would be a way to save journalism because it means we care about the news that we are getting and contributing to spread around us (Elephant Journal, 2013).
In this day and age of fake news and viral content taking over much of our attention and online coverage, slow social media is even more important. Another aspect of journalism that I learned this past week at Elephant Journal is that fake news goes viral simply because people do not stop to read a post before sharing it. For instance, die-hard supporters of Bernie Sanders, Donald Trump, or Hillary Clinton who saw their favorite political personality’s name come up in a post, shared it simply because that person’s name was mentioned, and not because they read and agreed with what was being said. As a result, posts went viral without them being read and much less vetted. It is not to say that fake news was not shared intentionally, but it is probable that some people contributed to the spread of fake news unintentionally.
Slowing down and reading posts makes sure that at least you stop to read a post before contributing to it spreading, and only share or like if you truly believe it deserves the attention.
I feel that slowing down can help with journalism and a couple of other points.
2. Slow Social Media Helps You Be More Present
Being present is an essential aspect of mindul living, and it indicates that you are paying attention to what is happening in your life at that particular moment, without distracting yourself with the past or the future. You are not stuck thinking about what already happened or worry about what is coming next. Instead, you appreciate what is happening now, and give it your full attention.
Being present is about acknowledging that we only have one life to live, and we can only work on one thing at a time. There is no better time than now, and we should appreciate the now to the fullest.
Being present when engaging in slow social media, means giving your full attention to the post or article that you are interacting with, and only liking or sharing it after you have read it and genuinely support it or want others to read it as well. If you do not, then let it be.
3. Slow Social Media Shows You Care
In the post on YouTube, Waylon Lewis indicates that because we are in such a rush to get through everything that we have to do in our daily lives we tend to also rush through our interactions on social media. He indicates that this is a way of showing that we do not care (Elephant Journal, 2013).
If you value the activities you engage in, then give it the time and consideration they deserve. Rather than be in a rush to get through everything you want to see on social media, find short windows of time during which you can fully engage in the activity. For instance, instead of mindlessly and surreptitiously scrolling through the social media posts of the day as you are trying to get through your morning meeting at work, take a short coffee break after the meeting is over and read through the posts or articles that you find interesting.
Slow social media made me realize that I need to take a step back to appreciate what people are sharing, care about what they are posting, and take the time to read an article rather than the headlines, that is if I am genuinely interested. I believe that slow social media is not just about how to post on social media, but also about how to interact with it. If you care, then slow down and pay attention.
Elephant Journal. (2013, September 10). Don’t like this: How we can save journalism by slowing down. Retrieved on June 11, 2017 from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kC6-sFbPvZ4