Social media is still very intimidating for me, with so much information out there it gets overwhelming. As I was researching how to set up my blog, I came across a lot of recommendations on getting exposure through social media. This would mean that I must share my personal stories as well as that of my readers with the rest of the world. In doing so, I am inviting a lot of people and their opinions into my personal space.
I started thinking that this was not such a promising project after all. What scared me most is that I would have no control over my content. Once it is out there it is anyone’s game. Even with best of intentions my words could get twisted. Since all content is open to interpretation, my message may not be well interpreted. You have to allow for a certain level of vulnerability when posting anything on social media platforms. Was I ready for all this?
Due to limitations on social media platforms, you cannot always tell your story in full or even explain yourself if someone gets it wrong. Will I be able to tell my story and get my readers to receive it as intended? Am I willing to take that chance and discover something new about myself on this journey? Will I know where to set boundaries when expressing myself? Will my opinions add value to someone’s life since I am sharing from my perspective or leave them feeling worse? If it is someone’s story, am I representing them well?
Readers do not always have full access to the context of the story behind the content. We end up drawing our own conclusions. This sometimes leads to blind activism. Often times, headlines are meant to create a buzz around a certain topic only to find out that facts were misrepresented. Words are powerful, if not used constructively they can destroy lives. Some people may dismiss them as just content, but not everyone has a strong support system outside social media. Be mindful when using all social media platforms.
A colleague of mine was telling me the other day that they were disappointed after finding out the truth about a certain famous someone. How this person presented themselves on social media is not how they lived their life. Did they even know this person, does one picture or few words in a post tell the whole story of our lives? I guess as people we all need someone who gets us, and that person represented that for them.
There are varied reasons why people use social media, sometimes it is just a need to connect, promote our brand or even voice our opinion on what matters to us. We tend to align ourselves with people who have the same beliefs as our own. And feel let down if they change their minds or no longer feel the same way as we do. We also forget that behind that account is a person just like us, they evolve just as we do.
I also discovered that my mood/emotions influence how I receive information. The responses to posts depend on timing. After losing my mom to cancer, every article about mothers and children made me emotional. I projected my emotions without caring what the person who posted was going through. It became all about me. Don’t get me wrong, I was going through a tough time. But if I were to go back and read some of the posts, now that I am in a different headspace, I don’t think all the words would have the same effect as they did then.
Everyone is going through something; therefore, everyone’s timing will be different. Empathy plays a significant role here. With that said, it doesn’t mean that we should excuse bad behaviour from people hiding behind the keyboard. It costs one nothing to be kind. If you are not in a good space, maybe stay away from social media.
There is also a lot of good stuff on social media. I am still amazed with the number of great articles posted by people who really care for their craft. There are lot of free professionally researched pieces across all fields. These people are investing their own resources so that someone out there can benefit. For example, not so long ago I was looking for a hobby and a colleague of mine recommended crocheting, so I looked up an instruction video. I was so excited to challenge myself that I managed to finish a tiny baby dress in one night (with simple stitching of course). The instruction video was so easy to follow, and the process was very therapeutic. I have not gone back to crocheting but will keep challenging myself by trying out new things in future.
I had also wondered if I could ever be friends with someone I met via social media and not in real life. Well, it happens that I now have someone that I call a friend living on another continent. We have never met; our interactions have been through social media. When I told my children about it, they laughed and warned me that this person may not be who they say they are. Although they said it jokingly, I knew that they had real concerns. I am sure some of you or family members have encountered some unscrupulous people through social media.
Social media is mostly faceless, we may be putting ourselves or family in danger when we share information. Fortunately, this was not the case with me, I am lucky to have Kim in my life. She has been a source of encouragement and I am grateful she came into my life when she did. Even if we never meet, she has an incredibly special place in my heart.
Social media is also teaching me to be more disciplined in my approach to using it. In the past I would spend so many unproductive hours going from one topic to another. I have learnt to first make a list before logging onto the internet for my research to avoid information overload and distraction from many recommendations that come up.
I have also learnt through social media that there is a lot that connect us as human beings even though we may have different opinions on a lot of things. We are all looking for acceptance.
With this blog, I want to share my stories in the most authentic way possible. As I navigate social media, I will make mistakes but also take lessons from them. I am learning to be vulnerable and, in the process, peel off some layers and be more accepting of who I am. I hope as you read, my stories will provide you with a safe space to escape from whatever it is that you are going through or just a place where you can be yourself without judgement.
Please share with me your own social media experiences, I will post some of your comments in my follow up article.
Until next time, please stay safe and healthy.