A long time ago I quit Facebook and learned a few things.

Guess what?

Quitting didn’t actually last that long. I still take breaks from Facebook now and again, but I realised that I do prefer to live with it, for my sins.

Social media is a guilty pleasure for a lot of people, including me (although I do use it a lot for work as well). But Facebook has always been more of a casual channel for me, and for Joe. I was spending (wasting?) a lot of time in groups debating politics, buying things, discussing hobbies, reading news comments, and all that fun stuff.

But recently I joined a PR group, a bloggers’ group, and a freelancers’ group, and suddenly my outlook totally changed. I left a lot of the hobby groups and generic discussion groups I was in (or stopped posting in them so much), and started getting involved in threads that were actually relevant to my work and web interests. I pushed aside the feelings of ‘everyone is doing better than me’, which has put me off these types of groups in the past, and I’m glad I pushed through that stage. I’ve learned a lot. I’ve been really inspired. I’ve been able to help other people.

I’ve spent a lot less time arguing with people who are completely crazy or total trolls (I’m not sure which). I can still indulge in my addiction without always being unproductive. I can hide away from the sycophantic world of LinkedIn but still get some great tech industry conversations away from Slack.

And even when I scroll mindlessly through my feed of vaguebooking posts from friends and pictures of kittens, I’m instantly pulled back on track by posts about pitching ideas to news publications or new stock photo releases or where’s good to buy hosting *cough* 20i.com.

So here’s my tip for today. Stay away from the crazy people. Unfollow people you’re not learning from or no longer interested in. Never read the comments on trending news topics. If you’re using Facebook, do a search or follow links from blogs you like to join some genuinely useful groups. If you love Twitter, search for some Twitter chats relevant to your interests. If you’re on Pinterest, look for infographics and how tos, and people who post those kinds of things a lot. Whatever social network you’re on, you can gain more benefits from it. And be the change you want to see too. You can still enjoy social media, have some downtime, and get some genuine use out of it. Today, instead of feeling depressed about world politics, I’m choosing to be upbeat about my blog and planning a redesign and promotional strategy for it

Which productive groups and people do you follow on social media networks, and how do they help you?