Does social media enhance your life or distract you from it?  

In this very cool TEDx talk by Kristen Howerton, the blogger behind Rage Against the Minivan, Howerton talks about the nature and importance of distractions and how they can sometimes be used as tools to give us a break from stressful situations. She's talking about all kinds of distractions here — whether it's a glass of wine at night, clicking around on the Internet, or obsessively packing a suitcase (a distraction she recalls in her harrowing tale of getting stuck in Haiti during the horrific 2010 earthquake.)

Howerton then probes deeper, asking us all to question if we are using our distractions, in particular ubiquitous social media, to numb ourselves to the world around us. We check in with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Foursquare, and all of the countless other blogs and boards at stoplights, in line at the grocery store, during meetings, while our kids are playing, and even in the bathroom. For many of us, social media pulls us away from the things we really want out of life in favor of more time with our distraction. 

We use it to avoid doing the dishes or talking to our spouses. And we even use it to avoid being alone with our own thoughts. As Howerton cautions, stressful situations or emotions don't just go away on their own, and unless we deal with them, we are missing out on life. Sure, we can avoid dealing with pain or sadness, but then we also avoid experiencing joy or that sense of community you feel when you chat with friends and family face to face. Social media can save lives, but it can also waste lives.  

"The only way to work through crappy feelings is to walk through crappy feelings," she notes wisely.  

Take a look at her talk and let me know what you think. Has social media become your addiction?

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