DEAR HARRIETTE: I seem to be addicted to social media. Ever since I got on Facebook a few years ago, I sign on every day, and I check in all the time. I mean, even at work I check in on Facebook and now on other social media things like Twitter and Instagram. I love taking photos and posting them. I know this probably seems juvenile, but I find it to be a fun way to connect with people. I am single and in my 40s. This way, I get to see what other people are doing and entertain myself. But I find that sometimes it is too much. Sometimes I end up staying up really late checking out what other people are doing or not getting my work done on time if I get caught up in something interesting online.
I noticed that one of my "friends" said she was taking the summer off of social media because she felt like she was just lost in it. I feel the same way, but I don't know how I will occupy my time if I swear off of these connections. Sounds pathetic, right? What can I do? -- Too Much Social Media, Chicago
DEAR TOO MUCH SOCIAL MEDIA: You are correct in saying that engaging social media can be addictive. It is a very easy way to get wrapped up in other people's drama and lives. Yet it absolutely can be a distraction. I like your friend's approach. Start by taking a day off. Plan a day when you do something fun that you have always enjoyed and can do by yourself. Leave your phone at home so that you cannot get to social media even if you tried. Do the same one day at work. Do not sign on to social media on the job (a good rule generally because you should not be using social media when you should be working). Do work when you should be working.
Start making plans to see your friends in person. Use social media to contact them and make an invitation for a face-to-face meeting. Rather than becoming overcome by this creative form of technology, use it to good purpose -- for making real connections. Being single does not need to mean being alone. Get out and spend time exploring your world. Invite your friends to join you. And open your eyes to discover new friends along the way.