T & T to being a better human: learn to control the social media monster

Growing up social media consisted of the following:
1) Instant Messaging
2) AOL, hotmail or juno slow-speed dial-up internet and email
3) landline cordless phones

Now we have:
1) Facebook
2) Twitter
3) Instagram
4) google +
5) blogs [wordpress, blogspot, tumblr, etc.]
6) pinterest
7) myspace
8) snapchat
9) linkedin
10) Skype, Facetime, and google hangout, etc.
11) youtube
12) vine
13) imessage, google chat, etc.
and so many more that I’m sure I’m missing.

So I don’t really like social media, personally. To me it is a necessary evil. The main reason I feel this way is because (full disclosure coming up) I care what other people think. In my brain I don’t think I do but when I expose myself to hundreds of other peoples thoughts and opinions, all of a sudden I start feeling really self-conscious about everything I’ve ever done on social media. I start to think that my pictures are clogging up someone’s newsfeed, or my thoughts are stupid and shouldn’t be expressed. And do you know why? Because there is a TON of negativity on these sites. People making fun of others for things they say, do, think, feel or in general express. It makes me feel like A) can’t we all just get along? and B) everyone must think I’m the worst.

Now if you can’t relate to this post at all and you feel like you have no trouble with social media, then I applaud you. I really do. But I am super sensitive to it. And if you are too then welcome, you’re not alone.

My problem with social media is that I feel like if I make one mistake or do one thing wrong I’ll be completely ostracized and made fun of. I’m sure I’m overreacting but it’s something I struggle with, daily. So I tend to avoid social media. Which is good for some and not an option for others. But I’m realizing, the older I get, that the more I avoid things that make me uncomfortable the less I’ll experience in life. It’s like choosing to be acted upon instead of choosing to act. So here are my tips and tricks to living and thriving with social media:

1) realize that opinions are opinions. Everyone’s got one and everyone loves to share theirs. This is a universal fact. People love to be heard (I write a blog, I’m definitely one of them). So yes, people might have opinions on what you share but it doesn’t change who you are or how much worth you have. Let them have their opinions and keep your own. And going along with that don’t let the number of likes or comments you get define who you are, because it really doesn’t.

2) give yourself a limit. It’s hard not to care what other people think when you’re constantly checking everything. Turn the notifications off on your phone. As a compromise, give yourself a half hour slot or so each day to check all your stuff.

3) use social media for its purpose. Social media connects us in a way that was unthought of and unheard of 20 years ago. We can stay in touch with people better than ever now. What’s my old college roommate up to today? I don’t know, let me check facebook- oh look, she’s got two kids and her husband’s working in North Carolina. Can’t find someone’s phone number to give them a call? message them somehow and get it. Or use skype, facetime or google hangouts to get a face to face chat going (I don’t think we understand how utterly cool that really is). What I’m saying is use these sites to stay connected to people-that’s really what they’re there for.

4) live real life. These days it seems as if most people believe that if you don’t take a picture of something and post it somewhere or status update constantly then you really aren’t living. Sometimes it can be really nice to just put the phone away and enjoy simply living. Whether it’s nature or spending quality fun time with someone you love; you don’t always need to document it and/or share it. Enjoying the moment for what it is can be completely freeing and usually brings more beauty into your life then if you constantly tweet away the moment. Here’s a few fun videos to illustrate my point:

5) ask someone you’re close to if you might have a problem. So this one is a little weird but it kind of goes along with those videos I just shared. Generally speaking we aren’t very good at assessing ourselves. Asking someone who is close to you, that you regularly spend time with, whether or not they think you are spending too much time doing social media might be a good way to evaluate yourself. I spend 90-95% of my free time with my husband. I value his opinion and if I’m ruining a moment because I’m letting something small and insignificant (a perfect picture or well-coined phrase) come between us, I would really like to know. It’s important that you don’t let your real relationships suffer because you’re living in a virtual world.

And remember that this blog post is an opinion too. The things I find fault with on these sites are my own insecurities. Other people might not have a problem and might not feel the need to change. But that’s not why either of us is here right now. So remember to think happy thoughts and just be yourself. You got this.


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