Social media is very unsettling to me. I’m in a constant state of internal conflict from simultaneously embracing it and fighting it. Since discovering Facebook in 2008, I’ve fallen deeper into the habit and added other platforms like Twitter and Instagram to my repertoire without truly understanding the role they play in my life. Or understanding how to use them for that matter. #whatisahashtag.
Lately, I’ve been noticing a social media vacation trend. My husband threw in the towel on Facebook months ago. He didn’t delete his account but went off the grid and ceased most interaction with it. I’ve also seen a couple of posts from those in my network bidding adieu for time-limited Facebook breaks which I think is a noble undertaking. Not as dramatic as going off the grid, but a good way to re-calibrate and quiet the news feed noise. This has me wondering what, if anything, I should do to evaluate the role of social media in my life.
Since I live with the extreme opposite Facebook user, I decided to compare notes with my husband about our respective relationships with social media. He perceived my use as prolific and unnecessary and I perceived his absence as standoffish and, well, anti-social. It was during that conversation that I stumbled upon the perfect way to assess the situation. MEANINGFUL USE. My social media interactions, be it through this blog or on Facebook, predominately add value to my life. There are times when I get overwhelmed with posts that seem pointless, but for the most part, I find connection, community and enjoy positive interactions with people. You could say I use social media to be social.
The term “”meaningful use” is familiar to me from the medical world. It was all the rage when the term surfaced around 2009 for any healthcare provider transitioning to Electronic Health Records (EHR). If a provider could meet a certain set of criteria and objectives with the use of their EHR and achieve meaningful use, then they could be reimbursed for part of the implementation of the system. I am reclaiming the term as my theme for the New Year!
Originally the answer to my Facebook question, the idea of meaningful use has taken on a much broader application. It’s become this really simple way to address the value of just about anything in my life. I need things to be simple and the concept of meaningful use helps prevent me from overthinking things.
It boils everything down to the core – does this person/thing/activity/job/dog/cupcake provide meaningful use. Yes? Carry on. No? Put the energy into resolving it by either eliminating it from your life or finding a way to make changes so that it does add value. The beauty here is that we get to define what meaningful use is – it’s personal. It helps us steer clear of judgement because I can’t say you’re wrong to find meaningful use in something that I don’t. One person’s Facebook nightmare is another person’s Facebook playground.
We can all benefit from this concept. Maybe the shift is to no longer chase meaning in our lives. Instead, correct that lens and focus on surrounding ourselves with people, things and circumstances that allow us to achieve meaningful use. Meaning doesn’t just happen to us, we create it and we have to be an active participant in how we construct that narrative. Therein lies the work. From simple things like purchases to more complex decisions like careers or relationships, this concept can help guide our choices.
Join me and resolve this year to use your life in a way that means something to you. There’s no better feeling than to step back and look at your life, knowing with certainty that you have achieved meaningful use. Cheers to 2016!