How to have Good Manners on Social Media
There's something I've been meaning to tell you. Social media has sometimes taken priority... I'm sorry. I know you don't mind us being friends, but it started to get more important to me than you.
So I put it back in its place.
June 12th, 2017
June 1st, I added to my social media boundaries. Instead of just staying off Facebook after 6 pm on weekdays I started to limit Instagram check-ins to 3-4 times daily at a 15-20 minute cap. It had to happen after discovering that I was using it to check out of life whenever boredom hit, and it was brewing discontent.
I haven't looked back, and what's more, learned a couple of things.
Social media is not the culprit
It's popular to hate on social media for something that is really our own problem: discipline. Social media is still so new in sociological terms that we are more like a 10-year-old trying to control a fire hydrant. We haven't gained enough experience and wisdom on the internet to know how to utilize it properly.
It works a little like gossip. Gossip is bad, we all know that, but would we stop talking entirely just to control it? Bad idea. Conversation is one of the foundations of community and it would be foolish to all shut up, even if we could. We need genuine human connections. Social media is simply a new way of conversation and it's not going to leave so we may as well take responsibility for our talk [posting] and learn to contribute wisely. Or just stay away.
But if it's something you're a part of or want to be for any amount of time you choose, here are a couple of tips.
1. LEARNING TO LISTEN
I learned something unexpected after cutting down on Instagram. Aside from the benefit of de-cluttering mental space I found listening became easier again. I soaked in the details on photos and read captions thoughtfully. There was more real happiness for my friend's moments and more healthy admiration for brands I admire. Dissatisfaction lessened and resentment waned. I could listen to the conversation again instead of adding static to it because the need to prove myself left.
2. CONTRIBUTING VALUE
Yes, I know I know value is a buzzword right now and like all buzzwords, has a lot of cliche and some worth. Example: 5 selfies in a row wearing a flower crown in a cheap snapchat filter is neither adding value to others or your online personality (same goes for the puppy dog!) This is the equivalent of Miss Bates in Emma. Making people listen to you when you really don't have much to say.
The other extreme is lurking online. Never joining the conversation. Now this is tricky because some people are naturally leaders in conversation while others remain more quiet so by all means stay quiet if you want, but do realize that the more outspoken often value what the quieter, more introspective folk have to say.
3. KEEPING IT REAL
This one is tough, but I think it can actually be kept pretty simple. Don't lie about your life but don't vomit it all over the internet either. Authenticity and honesty are appreciated by all, however constantly dumping emotional baggage or negativity on the web is somewhat akin to standing in front a of a roomful of strangers, acquaintances, and friends like they are your therapist and letting it all out.
On the other hand social media is a good place to track with life journeys, events, and circumstances. I've personally kept up with a story of a woman widowed in the last 18 months and prayed (and cried) with her. Her willingness to let us, some perfect strangers, participate in one of the most difficult times in her life touched me deeply. I would never want to gain through someone's grief, but the insights and emotion she shared impacted and inspired me.
Same goes for friends that have allowed me to walk through hard times with them on social media. They aren't whining and complaining, but they aren't hiding in the darkness either. The difference is someone walking through darkness and someone who plunked down in darkness, unwilling to face the pain and walk on.
The power of social media is to take connections and relationships that would never have been possible otherwise. You might choose to keep up with friends you already have, gain new friendships outside of your geographical or social sphere, or use it as a tool for business. The same rules apply.
3. Stay real
Photo at the top by Gretta, at Grettagraphy