Digital connection seems like a great way to build your community. But digital connection alone can lead to disconnection. Here’s why it’s better to be antisocial.
I was recently working with a client who was having trouble implementing some of the things that we were doing in our coaching program. When I asked her what was happening, she said, ‘I just feel like there’s so much to do. I’m feeling overwhelmed.”
There were a lot of factors at play that were adding to her feelings of stress. She didn’t have many clients, wasn’t getting her newsletters out and wasn’t getting her outbound calls done. She just felt like everything was snowballing and she was finding it hard to get back in control. So, I asked her to share with me what was going on in her calendar.
When we had a look at a calendar, I could see meetings scheduled but no time blocked out to work on allocated tasks. The most alarming thing, however, were the amount of interruptions she was dealing with.
She told me, ‘I get interrupted all the time.’ When I asked her what was interrupting her, she elaborated, ‘Emails and also notifications and messages and things like that.’
‘How many of those do you get?’ I asked her.
She said, ‘Oh, I get quite a few because I put a bit of content on social media’.
As it turns out her time was being spent on managing technology, the same technology that was meant to support and grow her business. But it was actually creating a barrier to her being able to do her work efficiently. Her digital connection was disconnecting her from her own success.
Digital Connection (Technology Addiction)
Last week, the Netflix documentary, The Social Dilemma, was released. It uncovers the way that technology companies, in particular social media companies, create designs that nurture digital connection to create a technology addiction. In particular, they deliberately create the technology that delivers drug-like dopamine hits so that you continue to use their technology.
Every time you hear a ping of a notification or see a little blurb pop up on your mobile device, your body gets a little release of that feel-good hormone. Over time you learn to crave those hits, in exactly the same way that you would a drug. In fact, a quote in the film says, ‘There are only two industries that call their customers users. One is the drug industry and the other is technology.’
The Need to Belong
The Social Dilemma also describes the way that social media develops a false economy with regard to community. Robin Dunbar’s research found that we all have a fundamental need to belong in a community. Technology and social media companies know and thrive on this inherent drive.
People who are looking for community, will find immediate rewards on social media. It’s easy to find people who are interested in the same things as you are – whether that’s gardening or being dog parents. But even though it’s easy to find a community the long-term potential is limited – both personally and in your business. In your business, some of your community will come from social media of course. But most will be built as a result of your direct and in-person communication, like emails, phone calls and having real conversations.
In order to fight this designed addiction, and carve back that time from technology, we need to become antisocial. Becoming antisocial doesn’t mean cutting off ties to your family, friends or real-life communities. Instead it means ditching the digital disconnection and replacing it with real connection. Here are three steps to accomplishing this.
Be Clear About Your Purpose
To ditch digital connection in your business the first thing you need to do is be very clear about your purpose and your goals. Consider what you’re really trying to achieve. In order for your business to grow and succeed you need to develop a purpose that drives strategic decision-making. If you don’t, you will find that your practice is just be aimlessly wandering. But once you have a clear focus, you’ll know where you have to go and what will serve to help you get there and, of course, what won’t.
Consider Your Community
Once you’ve set your purpose and goals, you’ll then need to take a look at your community and the tribe of the people around you. Consider: are these the people that are going to help you achieve success?
Janine Garner, entrepreneur, Fortune 500 mentor and author of It’s Who You Know, talks about 12 key people in your community. The 12 key people are the group that will help you build, manage and leverage your network and, ultimately, achieve success. Robin Dunbar also talks about the 15 people who have the greatest impact on our success. In both situations, having these strong, though relatively small, communities ensures you’re not looking for social connection through addictive and time-wasting technology. Instead, you’re building a real life support system around you.
Take Control of Technology
The third step is to take control of technology. To accomplish this you need to do four things:
- Check your email only once a day and turn off your message notifications. If you’re worried that you’re going to miss something, turn on your out-of-office message response. Include a message that says, ‘Please note that I check my inbox at the end of each day at four o’clock.’ You can always add, ‘If you’re after something urgent, my mobile number is…. Please text me or call me.’
- Turn off notifications on your phone. The only notifications that should be on your phone are text messages. Remove any notifications that have to do with emails or social media, without exception. These are distracting and simply feed that dopamine response that keeps us addicted to technology.
- Check and change your default settings. Don’t just accept what your different systems give you – these aren’t necessarily going to serve you well. Turn off anything that will create distractions for you.
- Don’t just click on suggested content without thinking about what you are choosing. These clicks ensure that you’ll continue to receive more and more of that particular type of content. In the end you’ll only be seeing content that is related to how you already think. This is known as an ‘echo chamber’ and means you won’t necessarily be exposed to positions and ideas from a wide diversity of people and thinking.
At the end of the day, being digitally antisocial will free up your time and your headspace so that you can focus on your business. And being social with your real life network of support will help you to meet your business goals and achieve the success that you are looking for.
1. Find your purpose and set your goals.
2. Gather your real life tribe around you. Make sure these are the 12 or 15 people that support you in achieving success for your business or practice.
3. Take control of your digital connection and your digital life, rather than letting it control you.
I’d love to hear your thoughts….
Jane Anderson is a strategic communications expert, speaker and the author of seven books including the upcoming Catalyst Content. With over 20 years of experience helping people to communicate confidently, she is obsessed with authentic influence and human connection to drive business growth in a world of disruption and automation. She delivers Content Creation Bootcamps (Virtual and Face to Face), Coaching and Keynotes. To inquire about her working with you or your organisation please contact us here.