THIS excitement we feel whenever a year is ending and another is starting is fuelled by talk of resolutions and promises of change – all of which sadly burns out within weeks, in most cases.
But that quick burnout is getting harder and harder these days because of the way this damn internet never forgets!
Before the internet the hardest supervisors of our New Year Resolutions were our close ones – friends, family and perhaps even workmates. They themselves were also faltering on resolutions elsewhere so they were not too efficient about the process of keeping you on track with yours.
Post-internet, you find yourself being supervised and judged by the whole world and for much, much longer than anyone could before, and in a much more cruel fashion.
See, these days in the excitement of the moment we turn straight to our smartphones and computers to declare what is happening in our lives with no pause for second thought. Sometimes every whim is turned into a tweet or WhatsApp message before it has been allowed to develop into a responsible, properly developed idea.
The flurry of tweets and WhatsApp messages going round in these first days of the year include the usual motivational quotes and passages derived from the usual sources – most of them not even Ugandans- interspersed with jokes, quips and witty ditties that all say something about the sender.
At this time of the year anything you say about exercise, healthy living and drinking less alcohol is taken to be a Resolution or the foundations of one, and you are bound to be asked about it in a few months’ time by someone quite random and who ordinarily has no business knowing how much weight you put on during the Christmas week. This person is highly likely NOT your intended message recipient. But to start with, your social media interaction is highly likely NOT targeted at anyone specific; you’re #JustSaying, right?
From one point of view, this ‘Internet never forgets’ can be a good thing when it comes to stuff like New Year Resolutions and pledges to change behaviour. If indeed it helps stop you from burning out on them then the Internet as a tool of social accountability makes absolute sense.
If we use it correctly then the steps to follow would be:
First, choose the Resolutions or Pledges that you wish to make public. Don’t let every whim turn into a public commitment. Be wise about your social media usage because the internet never forgets.
Then, make a small plan for keeping those particular Resolutions. Make it easily communicable, manageable and track able, starting with the wording of the Resolution itself. For instance, your exercise Resolution would be “I’m doing more exercise in 2017. I swear! #NewYearResolution17” rather than “I’m going to the gym every day of this year!” With the first one you can do a schedule of daily setups, squats and push-ups on the verandah of your muzigo three times a week and confidently report that you are sticking to your Resolution. With the second one you will one day post a photo of yourself sick in bed one afternoon and a troll will show up with, “So today you are not in the gym, eh? Atte that #NewYearResolution17 mboozi?”
Your plan should also include milestones at which you will provide updates of how well (or poorly?) you are doing, so that you keep the Resolution alive.
After you have a plan you are closed to ready to declare your Resolutions via the Internet but before you do so please select your messaging targets wisely. Not everything you tweet, blog or post to Facebook will be read by ALL your friends and followers, but the concerns here are not having the essential persons read your Resolutions and then having the non-essential ones doing so instead. Identify the messaging targets that will be your supports and will help keep you on track with your Resolutions and tag them into the posts.
Try to avoid the trolls by not announcing your Resolutions in places where you are likely to get back demotivating negative comments. Resolutions mostly being personal, are more appropriately shared in family and friends WhatsApp and Facebook groups, and Google+ circles – not on Twitter timelines where there are disciples of the ‘Trailer Jam’ concept lurking round every tweet.
Then you can make your Grand Announcement. Only then.
On the side, if you’re sending round other light messaging that is not YOUR position or Resolution, then add a little disclaimer such as “Forwarded” or “Not my opinion/view” so that the trolls have less to latch on to. Hopefully that will also keep your positive, supportive messaging targets more focused on your actual Resolutions.