Today many of us are spending hours online using various accounts to communicate, learn and instigate change. Just as home space and workspace are filled with inspirations and positives, it’s important we apply those same goals to our online social spaces. Here are my tips.
Keep Perspective in Check
Everyone with social media accounts are content editors. Most often we’re seeing our loved one’s best of the best (edited) photographs, exciting life developments or greatest jokes by scrolling through feeds. And it’s easy to suddenly feel inadequate when comparing their choices to our own. STOP! It’s bad enough we do this in the real world, but to take the “compare and despair” behavior online where there are hundreds (possibly thousands) of people to compare yourself to…that’s self-confidence suicide. Remember everyone is usually putting their best foot forward online.
Actively Support Family and Friends
Social voyeurism describes people who look at the online lives of others, but never participate. It’s the person who clicks on a friend’s wall, scrolls down days of posts and never gives a single like. Why cut yourself out of 50 percent the experience? If you’re proud of a loved one’s accomplishment, express it! See someone having a rough day, post something you know will make them smile. And use tools to stay in touch with family or friends living miles away.
Know When It’s Too Much
Reading post after post about all the challenges facing our world can crush even the most optimistic. In no way should we be ostriches with heads in the ground, but it’s important we’re in tune with ourselves when the news begins corroding our everyday spirit. It’s easy to find stories depicting humans at their worst. Keep a counterbalance by reading things that show us at our best. And if a worthy cause speaks to you, research how you can become involved to make a difference.
Don’t Launch Firebombs
We’ve all seen firebombs thrown. A post or comment is taken offensively, there’s heated posts, escalation, and something that potentially could have been worked out causes irreparable damage. Social media is often not the best space to work out baggage. Take a 10 minute breather instead of automatically replying in anger (a coping mechanism championed in real life, which should apply to online). Message a person directly or, if possible, call to suss out the issue. Because after an argument is over, do you really want it living forever online? With an audience?
Pick Your Battles
Know for a fact you and Aunt Betty will never agree on gun ownership? Is a sign in the neighbor’s front yard only a smidge of the support they’re giving a candidate online…a candidate you absolutely loathe? You have every right to engage in a confrontational debate, but would you do it in person? If the answer is no, reconsider your online actions. My oldest childhood friend and I have very polarizing views on certain issues. We “agree to disagree” and I choose not to share her political posts on my social media feed or write inflammatory language in her comments (see firebombs). Our discussions occur in person. Sometimes heated, but always rooted in respect.
Let People Go
If someone is no longer acting kind towards you online, LET THEM GO. High school friends, old love interests, a cousin you were once close to, former colleagues…this holds true for anyone in your network. Don’t let your self-worth play victim to a contact’s passive aggressive whims. If you think the person is completely unaware of their behavior, say something. Either they’ll apologize and make amends or continue being a jerk. If the latter is true you’ll know it’s definitely time to cut them lose. (If the situation is more serious and you’re feeling harassed online, visit the Women’s Media Center’s Speech Project page for resources).
Follow Those Who Inspire You
We all need a pick-me-up when the daily grind gets tough. Seek out those who make you laugh, challenge you to be better, and simply make life more enjoyable.