The Good and The Not-So-Good of Social Media

Social media (sigh). It’s something that most of us use on a semi-regular basis, and others of us cannot imagine NOT using at least several times a day. Social media used wisely can be a way to stay connected with family who are far away, friends you haven’t seen in years, or serve as a means to share any number of valued moments to keep those memories alive. Social media that is used responsibly can be a good thing; however, there is a darker side to the rise of social media that one must also consider. Social media and the need to have every moment posted about can lead to oversharing, where nothing is off limits and the grass always looks greener in the other person’s profile than it does in our own. We go from honestly and realistically evaluating our lives to a place of over-analysis and negative judgement. Suddenly we are left feeling as though we don’t have enough, are not as happy as the other person seems and feel as though we should be striving to be better. In this modern age of global communication and advanced technology we are more connected, and yet more anxious and isolated, than ever before. We now find ourselves in a world where we are not just trying to keep up with the Jones’; we all ARE the Jones’. At least that’s what social media has us believing. Learning to embrace and use social media in a responsible way has become a necessity. The ability to be digitally represented in society allows for one to have more courage to speak his or her opinion, which we have all seen can be a good or bad thing. We can start a revolutionary movement to bring needed change and band people together who otherwise might have been able to find each other to do so, and on the flip-side social media can be used to create an environment to bully and criticize others while hiding behind a profile. Speaking of profiles, there is a steady rise in the number of social media accounts that are created that are false and not representative of the person behind them. Social media has routinely gone unchecked as to what types of behavior and representation are allowed, with little regulation being put in place that has gradually allowed it to morph into the digital Wild West. How do we then safely navigate a digital world that is created and shared at the click of a button? For starters, think wisely about who has access to your information and profile. Only share information with people you trust, and think twice about having a public profile that anyone can see. Recognize that what you see or read may not be the full truth, and practice not comparing what you see in someone else’s profile or post to your own life. Take breaks from social media as too much can start to feel consuming and overwhelming. Designate a set amount of time that you will devote to it each day, and periodically schedule a day or week where you will refrain from using or even looking at social media all together. If you really want to take it up a notch, plan out a day or more of no technology AT ALL. After the initial shock wears off, you will be amazed at how much lighter and stress free you feel. You will reconnect with people and your environment in a way that you may have long forgotten, and be amazed at how much of the world is waiting for you if you take the time every once in a while to look up from your screen.   Find your peace, and get back to being you.