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home : columns : dear harriette June 24, 2016

1/28/2014 1:11:00 PM
Reader must prioritize social media time

DEAR HARRIETTE: I'm feeling overwhelmed by social media. I was advised to sign up for Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, LinkedIn and a few others, so I did. Meanwhile, I have a busy job that I love and a family. Here's the thing: I find that people write to me on all of these platforms, and it is hard for me to manage answering them or even keep up in a timely manner.

I was offered an opportunity the other day on LinkedIn but didn't notice for more than a week. When I followed up, it was too late. On Facebook, I feel like it's mostly family and friends telling silly stories. When they write to me, I don't feel a sense of urgency, but they often do.

How do I juggle all this stuff so that it works for me and not against me? I don't want to be rude to anyone or hurt anybody's feelings, but I can't seem to keep up. -- Bad Juggler, Baltimore

DEAR BAD JUGGLER: You are not the first person to be worn out by social media. Like anything else in your life, you do have to figure out how to balance your responsibilities. You can start by evaluating which of the social media outlets is most beneficial to you. Do that by considering what is important in your life. If you want to build a network of contacts professionally, LinkedIn can be very useful for you. If you want to stay in touch with friends and family, Facebook is easy to engage. If you like visual interaction better, Instagram and Pinterest work really well.

After deciding which social media outlets are your priorities, make a decision to devote 20 minutes once or twice a week to checking your various social media accounts. If you maintain a rhythm that makes you feel comfortable, those who engage you will learn to respect it.

DEAR HARRIETTE: In the past few weeks, several people I have known for a very long time have died. All of them died young. One was a child who was hit by a car. Another passed out at a party and never recovered. Another died of breast cancer. I am only 40 years old. I always thought that death happened frequently when you got old. I feel numb after all of these sad events, and I am not sure how to react. I feel like I am not spending my time wisely. I hadn't talked to any of these friends in weeks or, in one case, years. I want to make my friends a priority, but right now I just feel sad. -- Stunned, New York City

DEAR STUNNED: Sudden, unexpected death of loved ones can definitely send one into an emotional tailspin. It proves to you that nothing is promised in life. It reminds us all that we need to make the present moment count. What you can do moving forward is to make a list of the people you care about and literally place a checkmark by their names as you get in touch with them. Commit to calling and seeing your loved ones more regularly. Don't wait to express your love. This can help you heal and strengthen your current bonds.

You can also be in touch with the families of the deceased to offer your condolences and support as they grieve.

(EDITORS: For editorial questions, please contact Elizabeth Phelps at

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