As a Millenial, a blogger, a Marketing student, and mostly out of my own interests, the Internet is a huge part of my life. There is something about having nearly the whole world at our fingertips that can make us slaves to our screens. Like many of you reading this, I am almost entirely sure that after I graduate and enter the “real world”, I will be headed to a corporate job where I will spend the majority of my day in front of a screen. Though I think I could spend less time on my iPhone and in front of my laptop each day, that’s not my main concern. What prompted me to write this post is a caption I shared on my Instagram months ago (see it here). I try to keep it real but that’s not always the fun option, frankly, but I noticed from the comments and the texts and messages I received after that post, that there were others who were either in the same boat or have been there before. If we all experience rough patches, why don’t we acknowledge that more? For those of you who use social media as part of your everyday life, like me, we don’t acknowledge the rough stuff because we all know that social media interaction is more fun when you’re not a Debbie downer. If we’re going to continue using social media so much in our daily lives, I think it’s time to take it with a grain of salt.
Social media can get the best of us sometimes. I’ve seen social media get the best of people and really breed some not-so-nice feelings. Everything from jealousy to FOMO. Here’s the cool thing about the Internet that’s not available as a feature in real life: if you don’t like something, you can exit the page, unfollow a person, or unfriend someone. Do what you need to do for yourself, but don’t let whatever negativity you’re feeling override your judgment. (i.e. If you just can’t stand people posting pictures of their babies on Facebook, unfollow them and don’t waste your breath complaining about them. It’s a really easy and effective solution, promise! Though I don’t understand how someone could be tired of chubby, tiny humans personally.) Nothing is that private on the Internet, so it’s best to keep your ranting and whatnot offline. Gossip is never a good thing but it’s worse online than in person, in my opinion, because of one handy little feature called a screenshot. Plus, it can be more public than you think.
Social media is scripted to some degree. It is too easy to make assumptions of someone’s life through just their social media so this has a lesson for both the poster and the audience. Think of how you want to be perceived on social media and do your best to keep this in mind as you post. Employers do check your online presence. Old high school
friends acquaintances totally creep on you. However, you can’t always control how people perceive your posts and chances are, you won’t make everyone happy. And that’s alright. (Unless you are posting derogatory, abusive, etc. content that is. This is completely unacceptable, however it’s always going to happen as people hide behind the anonymity or “safety” of their keyboards.) Now on the other hand, if you aren’t the poster and you’re the audience, just keep in mind that social media is not completely indicative of someone’s life. Someone might look on top of the world in every single post, but might be going through some really tough times. Posts are carefully cropped and edited before being posted. People don’t usually share the hardships in their life on a regular basis so I think it’s easy for us to forget that every person is going through very human things. Life isn’t perfect, but social media might look like it is.
Numbers aren’t everything. Speaking solely for bloggers and other creatives, the number of followers and fans you have is something that is quite often analyzed and reported on for many reasons, particularly for business opportunities. Regardless if you’re a user of social media for a blog or a personal business, it doesn’t hurt to remind yourself once in a while that in the grand scheme of things, it’s a number. It will not stand the test of time, nor does it define you, or validate anything you do as a person. Plus, quantity doesn’t always equal quality. (Anyone recall the great Insta-purge of fake followers a few months ago?)
Social media is a brilliant thing that has helped families and friends stay connected, give businesses free or relatively low cost advertising opportunities, and more. As it becomes something that is increasingly important, especially for those whose livelihoods depend on it, there are things to remind ourselves of before we take it too seriously at times. The truth about social media is that it’s each person’s story that they are able to write and craft in their own way. Social media is a tool that often helps us, though it can never replace “real life” which is unedited and raw. As I continue to be plugged in on the Internet, I think the best way to use social media is to keep it real from time to time (though that perfect aerial shot of brunch or latte art is way more fun to post and I’m probably never going to not take a picture of my brunch because that’s just what weird foodies like me do) and to not take it so, so seriously. Whether I’m posting or I’m scrolling through my feed, the same reminders apply. My tip: Don’t be consumed as you consume social media :) I will be the first person to take my own advice, believe me. Consuming social media is not the problem, it is just our approach that can often develop problems. If we tweak the way we consume, it can be so much better for ourselves – whether that be our happiness, our sanity, our safety…the list goes on.
I’d love to hear some of your thoughts on this! Leave a comment or email me, I’d love to chat! What’s something you have to remind yourself at times when you’re on social media? Any bits of wisdom to share?