Connection Was My Word of 2022: How It Went, And Why Social Media Got In the Way

Dec 07, 2022 by Amber McClain Shaw, in Blog Posts
At the start of a new year, I choose a word of the year. More than eleven months into this year, my word is still going strong. I find it more interesting and powerful than a resolution. A word has a way of echoing back to you in a song, in something you read, in a conversation with a friend, and asks you to pay attention. This year I chose the word connection.

I’ve found so many ways to incorporate connection in my life, from choosing and joining a running group (BARC) to making sure I really connect with my husband when we sit down to eat dinner together. Unless, of course, there is a Warriors game on, or he needs to finish just one more thing on that spreadsheet. Hey, no one is perfect.
Two Friends, Lindisfarne, Northumberland, England 1987

When faced with a decision, I consider my word. It has made me more aware and intentional in my connections to others. I’ve strengthened some connections that are important to me, and I’ve also made an effort to be more connected to my own emotions, reactions and desires and examine them. Choosing connection is not always an easy choice, but I'm making it as often as I can.

One area I am struggling with is social media. I flip-flop back and forth about whether social media is a positive force for connection or a negative one. Lately, I’ve felt that it’s negative. I’ve been frustrated that I spend time scrolling through social media, and I gain nothing from it. I see someone I haven’t talked to in years went on a trip or moved. Someone else took their dog for a walk. Someone had a great cocktail with a view. I’m looking at this stuff, and some is interesting, but a lot of it is not.

To connect, I  want to disconnect more from social media. It sounds counterintuitive. Maybe it is, maybe not. 

I’m not deleting my social media accounts or removing them from my phone. I don’t want to totally disconnect. I use social media to keep up with my sons (although they use it less and less) and I also use it for my writing business. I first joined social media to keep up with family, and I still want to preserve being able to connect this way. I just want to get rid of all the noise and make it more intentional. I want to get rid of the icky feeling I get from trying to keep up with the constant random unprioritized flow of information being fed to me. 

To do this, I am trying an experiment. I’ve unfollowed most everyone on Facebook. It sounds drastic, but it’s not. Let me explain. It doesn’t mean I have unfriended everyone. No, I have just snoozed all the updates, so I no longer see posts in my feed. Now I don’t have much of a feed at all, which is nice. My feed is no longer a mess of random, disconnected information that I mindlessly scroll through, which makes me feel frustrated and crappy. If I want to see what someone has posted, I go to their profile, intentionally, and take a look. Or I go to a group I’m in, to see what’s going on. I decide what I want to see. 

I’ve been less sure how to quiet the noise on Instagram. I use it for both personal and professional purposes. I am not yet sure how effective it is for professional purposes and how well it drives people to my writing, my books, and the stories I want to tell. It can suck up a lot of time with pointless scrolling.

I’m not ready to completely abandon social media. I am trying to manage it better, and see how that goes. Meanwhile, I’m still trying to be intentional about connections. I am still in favor of real live in-person face time, which is always better than social media. It's frustrating spending time with someone glued to their phone and social media instead of engaging with the people around them. It's a form of disconnection, really, more than connection.

I'm already thinking about my word for 2023. Are you? There are many ideas online for word of the year if you are stuck. Pick something that resonates, write it down and take a selfie with the word. Put this photo where you will see it every once in a while. It's very effective and motivating, and you might like it more than making resolutions.

I would love it if you sent me your selfie with your word of 2023!