This article was written by Lynn Joseph on behalf of Sherley Altidor.
There’s so much to love and so much to be cautious about when it comes to social media. In so many ways, it’s so great that society has accepted social media as the internet and community on the internet has become more acceptable over the years. But with the good, comes the bad and we’re going to talk about all of that today. Let’s start with the good, because, why not?
Networking can feel forced and uncomfortable but social media takes a little bit of the pressure off. You don’t necessarily have to dress up for anybody but that’s because your profile photo and personality that you’re putting into the forefront are doing it for you. And if you find yourself being authentic and consistent and engaging, you might find yourself with a following that could lead to a job opportunity, whether you are looking for a new career path or not. So be sure to share your expertise in an approachable and fun way and the people will come to you. You want to have that social engagement with the people in your community. Jobs change all of the time and you never know when someone you know will have the opportunity to put in a good word for you (or vice versa) or be the one to hire you. Never underestimate the power of social media.
Authenticity is hard to find (whether online or in real life) but once you find it, it makes being on these social media platforms worth it. Follows and Follow Backs may not be genuine. Some people are only interested in a certain number of followers or certain people who they deem as important to be following them. But without engaging with the people who actually are reaching out to engage with you and without being your authentic self and providing a space to talk about these things that kindred spirits want to talk about, there is no reason to follow and be a part of your online journey. When you find those people online that aren’t just about the celebrity of the internet and really care about what they’re talking about, whether or not you have all of the same ideals, if their discussion is respectful and is a magnet to you and your personality, follow and engage. That’s how we keep the right conversations in the forefront. These are the tweets and status updates worth sharing.
Learning: More Open Discussion
What’s great about social media is that what once may have been taboo subjects to talk about are now more welcoming subjects. Mental disorders, being a marginalized individual in a white cis male able bodied world, etc… there’s so much space to talk about our experiences and learn about other people’s experiences. With that comes a better understanding and world view, empathy, and humanity. We are all going through our own issues and being able to see beyond ourselves gives us perspective and an opportunity to be an ally, be the best individual that we can be in this society. Information spreads fast and on social media, we have the privilege of getting first hand accounts from all over the world. By breaking down barriers, we get closer and closer to getting rid of biases, stigmas, and so forth and if we as a community can do that for ourselves and each other, we are only making the world that much better.
Find Your Community
With all of the above comes the aspect of finding the people online who make staying online worth it. There will be a lot of noise, as we’ll discuss in a moment. So if you can the light in the tunnel and hold onto that as your roadmap as you navigate the web, you will be golden. Find the people who like the movies and TV shows and books that you like or help you see why certain genres that aren’t your first choice are engaging. You don’t have to love everything but having the understanding and mutual respect go a long way in life and that translates to social media as well.
Also read: How To Be Okay With Saying NO
Lack of Consistency
The easiest way to become forgettable online is a lack of consistency. No one is asking you to post multiple times a day or even once a day if you’re online just for you and not a business. But people do want to know that you exist and what you’re up to. So make it a point to reach out and let people know what is taking your attention each week. Bonus points if you do it around the same time after a staggered amount so that people can know when to expect to hear from you. That’s not a rule or anything, it simply goes along the line of consistency. Make people remember you, especially if you’re not going to be posting often. Make your words count because if they don’t, and you’re not around often, people will forget.
Current Events Happen Fast
It’s hard to keep up on what people on social media are talking about these days. Sure, trending topics help you find the pulse of the conversation but at this point, it’s almost impossible to keep track of all of the trending discussions online, especially if you’re part of multiple communities. Topics change daily, sometimes even within a matter of hours. You are bound to miss a few things and that will make some people feel the FOMO hard. There’s really nothing that can be done to combat this as even if you were to stay on social media all day, everyday, you still wouldn’t be able to catch it all. So come to accept the fact now that you will not know everything. That’s a fact of life. Some things you’ll see over and over again. Some things you’ll be surprised to find that someone you know who is out of the loop, knows about something that you don’t. The internet is a funny place. Embrace it. And try not to get caught up in the cycle of receiving false information because everything that you read on the internet is not true. Read widely and wisely.
Talking Into A Void
Whether or not you’ve found your community, many times it may feel like you’re talking into a void. Everyone wants to be heard and everyone is saying something to make sure that they are. Sometimes, people are even willing to say ignorant or cruel things just for the likes and retweets but they don’t realize the damage that can be done by spreading that negative energy. Don’t fall into the trap of saying things for shock value or in a way that you typically would not and feels forced just because you want to be heard. If one person sees your tweet, whether they interact or not, you could be impacting them more than you know. But sometimes, you’ll never know.
Privacy And Safety
4A: Everyone wants to go viral until they see what happens to those who do go viral. Some people go viral for all of the wrong reasons and end up losing their careers. Some people go viral for the right reasons and trolls end up doxxing them. Others go viral and the enormity of the situation forces them to mute entire conversations, go private, or stay off social media for an extended period of time. Bottom line, be careful what you wish for. Going viral doesn’t always lead to being invited to The Ellen DeGeneres Show and being gifted $10,000. Being viral makes you more susceptible to hacking, doxxing, trolling, stalking, threats, etc… and all of this is magnified if you’re a woman and magnified even more so if you’re a woman of color.
4B: Using social media as one’s diary is more often than not, a bad idea. It might seem like a way for people to get to know you, a way to say things that you normally wouldn’t say in personal, a way to be more vulnerable in a safe setting. But not only do you want to avoid the above happening (hacking, doxxing, etc…), but by sharing personal details of your life, you’re not only putting yourself at risk but others in your real life at risk. The world is not about you and your role in this world is more than you. This means that what you do affects other people. Whether you see it or not, believe it or not, it’s true. Even if you hide someone’s face or change their name and omit details, you could be risking someone else’s privacy and safety all to tell a story to strangers on the internet. Be very careful what you share online because it might cost you but it might cost someone else too.
Long story short, there is plenty to love about social media and plenty to be wary of. Choose your battles wisely as you go forth on your favorite social media platforms. What is your favorite pro when it comes to social media?
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