Must be the season because I’ve heard “I’m unplugging” and “I’m going off the grid” and “I’m so done with Facebook and Twitter” from a lot of people who, quite frankly, should know better than to ditch social media completely.  

I’m referring to active, much appreciated members of online communities. People whose broadcasted content is so much more than a never-ending stream of self-promotion. Go-to people whose presence and availability on social media make a difference for individuals as well as organizations. These drastic resolutions are coming from people who are clearly exhausted, but probably not totally because of social media.

Making a fresh start with the new year is a nice concept, but in reality people seem more fried than invigorated by the second week of January. I blame the holidays with their fiercely frenetic social interactions in so-called real life. Let’s be honest, shall we? A large percentage of these interactions are with people we keep at a more clearly boundaried distance throughout the rest of the year ─ thanks to social media.

Demonizing and ditching social media is not the solution. Before pulling the plug or going off the grid, I suggest deploying the very tools social media platforms provide to ease the burden and reduce burnout. Yes, you already know about these and probably pay close attention if you manage social media for your organization. Turning to your personal accounts, it’s probably time to:

  • Reconfigure privacy settings: How locked down are your personal accounts? Are you up-to-date with the latest news about how to heighten privacy on the key social media platforms?  Review and reconfigure privacy settings to reflect changes in relationships and your current privacy needs.
  • Sort people into lists and groups: Do categories you originally set up or created during 2012 make any sense moving forward into 2013?  Have networks changed? Who has access to names on your lists, groups, circles, and boards? Review and reconfigure lists, groups, and circles you created on the key platforms.  
  • Reestablish boundaries: Been reluctant to “unfriend,” “unfollow,” or flat-out block people because you might be viewed negatively? You’ll need to get beyond that to reestablish control and reduce noise on your accounts.  Keeping in mind that there’s no such thing as full privacy on the Internet, do whatever you need to do to reestablish strong boundaries.
  • Revisit your content and conversation retrieval schedule: Apps set up so personal and business-related social media posts are delivered in an undifferentiated jumble? What might have seemed efficient at first could be making you nuts now. Review and revise how you retrieve social media content and conversation. While you’re at it, reconfigure how often and when you get all this information streamed into your skull.

To these tech suggestions now add what you know about how relationships work on and offline. Simply put: there’s no difference. 

As a practical matter this means showing courtesy and respect, even if you’re feeling too tired to give a hoot and just want to go MIA. Use social media to let people know you’re in the process of reviewing, reevaluating, and reconfiguring your social media networks. Do that first and then the actual work of reassessment before going completely off the grid.