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(person photographing roses with a phone) Sometimes you just have to stop and Instagram the roses.

A well-earned break

A well-earned break published on

“Just a note that, over the next while, it may be easier than usual to find me on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram. I’m doing a social media gorge.”

I’ve often said that the secret to not driving yourself batty online isn’t to focus on annual Internet fasts, but on taking social media and the rest of what the Internet has to offer, and making ruthlessly intentional use of it. Don’t let Facebook’s newsfeed, Instagram’s stream or Twitter’s trending topics tell you what’s important; use lists, hashtags and carefully-honed searches to set your own priorities.

But I’ll admit I’ve sometimes been guilty of underestimating how hard that can be. Because nearly every social media platform out there is doing its damnedest to lure you into their algorithmically-driven (and advertiser-friendly) stream of content. They’re doing it not just by making those streams appealing, but addictive — and by making it harder to shape those streams on your own.

That isn’t likely to change any time soon. So you might well be thinking “Hey, maybe it’s time for a new social network that won’t treat its members’ time and attention the way coal-mining companies treat Appalachian mountaintops.” And if you’re also thinking “And I’m just the visionary to build it!” then you’ll probably want to read this piece by Alexandra Samuel. (Disclosure: I’m her husband and biggest fan.) She discusses some of the daunting obstacles and tough choices any Facebook replacement will have to confront.

Meanwhile, it’s worth every effort we can make to remember that our time and attention are our own, that they have value, and that what matters is the connections we make and deepen with each other and the meaning we create. And don’t feel any shame over doing that online. When you Instagram those roses, do it with your head held high — so long as that’s the angle that works to get the shot you want.

…and share alike.

…and share alike. published on No Comments on …and share alike.

Originally published on ReadWriteWeb with “mastodon” misspelled.

Past generations would be utterly baffled by some of the challenges parents and kids face today.

True, we don’t have to write notes to school like “Dear teacher, Monique won’t be attending classes today because our entire village was wiped out by the Black Plague,” or arrange birthday parties at the mastodon petting zoo without the benefit of Evite or Facebook Events.

But technological advances bring their own unique issues to contend with. Our parents’ and grandparents’ generations never had to wonder whether to tweet that cute thing their kid just said, or if they should ask permission first. They never had to worry about their kids’ privacy when half their peers are sharing smartphone photos on Facebook and videos on YouTube. They never had to vet hula hoops and Monopoly games for adult content, security issues or in-app purchases.

In short, sure: maybe they walked to school uphill both ways through three feet of snow nine days a week. But they didn’t have a peer group expecting them to check in on Foursquare when they got there.