Social media is a tool that can be used for good; but if you let it, the platforms meant to bring people together and give voice to your cause can also impact you in ways that are unfruitful. This is because at the core of social media, therein lies the human need to be accepted. Every like, view, comment or lack thereof has the ability to tug at our heart strings and pierce the need for approval and affirmation. Even if you don’t agree, digital platforms focused on community engagement operate similarly to in-person social hubs like our neighborhoods, families, workplaces and college campuses.
Like it or not, where there are people there is a desire to fit in. And with that comes questions like: are you willing to compromise authenticity for follows? Are you willing to forfeit time in privacy for public praise? Are you willing to share a filtered version of yourself to please people who don’t even know the real you? These are valuable questions to consider when planning, posting, and engaging; and the following keys may offer some support in effectively answering them. Check out a few considerations for mentally and emotionally navigating social media.
Reality Check. Take a reality check on how well you know followers and those you follow. Seriously consider that the majority of people who follow you may not know who you really are. Losing sight of this truth may cause you to lean towards posting what you assume people would like to see versus the real you. Social media should be seen as a place where people can learn more about you or your cause and decide whether or not they actually like you versus a space where you are seeking to be liked.
Breaking the mold. We have a tendency as people to conform to the crowd. It’s safe to say it’s in our nature to adapt to those around us and blend in. This coincides with the need of acceptance; groupthink is a phenomenon that occurs, oftentimes subconsciously, with the primary unstated goal not to create imbalance within the group itself. Too often, people go along with the crowd against their own personal beliefs and cave in to the pressure to confirm. Let’s be honest, anyone can discover what works on social media; there are multiple recipes for getting noticed from fashion to food, activism to inspirational quotes. The goal is not finding out how to be liked; the key is discovering how you will authentically represent yourself to the public and, perhaps along the way, organically build community.
Prioritize in person relationships. While your digital community matters, in-person relationships will always hold more weight. Avatars and emojies can never replace the tangible smiles of loved ones and friends. Too often relationships are tarnished by reels, direct messages, and placing one or too many hearts beneath someone’s recent photo. When you think about it, digital platforms are great for reaching those you are unable to interact with in-person; the idea should never be to replace those interactions. It’s interesting how one can post a lengthy caption for a special someone’s birthday but could never find the nerves (or courage) to do so directly to the person they are speaking about. What good is it to pour into a million people who don't really know you (and vice versa) yet forfeit the opportunity to nurture the actual connections within arm's reach?
Setting the intention. Whether you use your feed for business or personal reasons, consider your intention. Having a platform is rarely for the cause of simply being seen. It’s for connection, relaying a message, or simply keeping up with loved ones. It’s not a spotlight but an opportunity to hold space in a greater community. The next time you pick up your phone ask, yourself: what’s my reason for logging in?...
Apply the aforementioned suggestions for at least 3 days.
the reality of your in-person relationships versus social media connections.
whether or not you find yourself "performing" on social media for attention/likes.
aiming to cultivate healthier bonds with those you are in close proximity with.
your intentions and purpose for engaging/posting/using social media.
This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.