Oh Social Media! You love it, hate it, or just don't care. It’s a free forum of millions of opinions and personalities you would not normally come into contact with in your everyday life. It's a way to make connections and relationships, or a way to lose them.
Everyone has a different view of how it is used and viewed. Therefore, there are no basic rules since weekly it seems to change based on what new program comes out or disappears and depending on your age range, you probably only use two to three specific platforms regularly.
Social media is a whole new arena to learn and navigate. It's a part of my children's everyday life as they are growing up. They know the terms: tweeting, favoriting, commenting, liking, sharing, posting, editing, chatting, and deleting as everyday words! All these words are related to them connecting with friends, family, and "gaming friends" (the people you only communicate with when you are in a virtual world, like Minecraft or a "clan").
When I was in high school, we had no way to communicate with friends except by written letter (called pen pals!) or hard line phones (the phone with a cord that is attached to a wall). The worst my parents had to worry about was what the neighbors thought and who I was speaking to on the phone that was attached to the wall in the middle of the kitchen. It had a cord so long that I would have to uncurl it so I could stretch it across the kitchen to my bedroom for some privacy! So the phrase "don't talk to strangers" literally meant don’t “talk" to strangers.
As I navigate this new media with 3 kids, I am very grateful to have a daughter who is "an old soul" and who is so responsible about perception and forethought. She is aware that there are people at the other end of that keyboard, even though she cannot see them or literally hear them.
She has asked me many times after reading a post, "Don’t they realize there is another person at the other end reading this who has feelings? I always am aware what I put out there."
She can explain her thought process to me on how she handles social media issues i.e. Tweets, etc. and she gets it. If she doesn't understand why someone would post something, we talk about it, until she can see the writer’s possible point of view, and she still wonders if that person realizes what they just said. Or if she posts something I don't approve of, which has only happened once, then we talk about it and I make sure she understands the perception others could take. It then gets fixed.
In my last two years of growing, changing, a marriage ending, friendships changing and/or ending, and looking for answers whether the outcome was painful or happy. I turned to social media as a regular connection when daily personal connections were limited. The most prominent ones in my life have been Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram.
During that time as I viewed the posts by others I personally felt the pain and witnessed a friend’s pain, just over a picture of a new friendship.
I have felt pain simply by seeing a word of tenderness between two others.
I have changed my view of someone based off of a post and/or a picture.
I have lost long time friends over a new friend request accepted.
Some of these are definitely related to the pain of a relationship ending and the repercussion from that, but I have also seen some of the same feelings occur in others lives on Facebook. They have posted their distaste for their "friends" comments and unfriended them.
I have seen many posts related to "mass unfriending" due to painful comments etc.
I have read conversations that get heated between “friends” and “strangers”.
Social media can be an easy place to throw insults and people may not realize (or maybe they do) the power of their words.
Tweeting is another area that can have a simple lack of forethought; from tweeting pictures that can hurt others or offend them to retweeting private/personal comments. Now again, many people use it for business, but there does seem to be a very gray area between personal and business because each person has their own idea, or lack of, how it should be handled.
Social Media has many uses and if we can remember a few key things it can be very beneficial:
-Be respectful to yourself in what you put out in the world. Have dignity.
-Don't hide behind a keyboard saying anything you would not say directly to someone’s face.
-Anything you do can be found forever on the internet.
-Remember, you may feel strongly about something now, but later in life you may not, so be aware of what you post.
-Just because this is a new public outlet, does not mean you need to use it or use it for every little thing you would not tell your neighbor or a complete stranger.
-Words are powerful; we have an obligation to leave this recorded history as something that can benefit others and not bring pain.
We are all different, that is the way it was meant to be. No progress can be made if we were all alike.
The purpose of this world and life on earth is to learn. To learn how to work with other personalities that are challenging to yours. That is the way we get stronger and raise up our collective positive energy level (more commonly referred to as our vibration level).
Responsibility is a part of life and throughout your life you will teach others and lead by example. By choosing your words carefully you show that you are aware of others, respect others, and have respect for yourself. Putting positive messages and positivity in general in the world, in whatever way you can, will benefit you and in turn sends a ripple out that affects others.
Be proud of the being you are. Your determination and strength here at this time is historic. No one knows how long they have, use the time wisely and be proud of the positive mark you leave on this planet and in the lives of others. Everyone has good to contribute to our collective.
Much Love and Responsibility.