Saturday, February 27, 2016

Seven Sins of Social Media

Let me start by saying that I am not writing this post because I am against social media. In fact I am fervent user of Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest and won't hesitate to admit that. I love how easy social media it makes these days to get and stay in touch with other people. Friends, (foes ;), family, acquaintances, prospect clients, business partners or prospect employers etc. 
For me personally, it's how I keep in touch with some of the most important people in my life, amongst which are my mother and my best friend of all best friends who both live in the Netherlands. Even though we're on different sides of the world, these social media allow us to keep in touch and follow what goes on in each other's lives. 

However, there is a also a risk involved with social media use. Like I said earlier, I am not campaigning you stop using it. My point is; all in good measure. What I am trying to accomplish here is to make you a little more conscious of the workings of all of these modern ways of communication and the effect of them on our lives, our communication with others and not in the least, our self-confidence. 

Some of these effects will be blatantly obvious, but I'm hoping to expose more than the obvious by looking at these. Let's start with the most obvious effect/sin.

Dare I bring up the addition of the word 'selfie' to our dictionary? Which style of photograph could possibly be more rooted in vanity and pride than a selfie? I know that there are millions of rants out here online about selfies and their relation to narcissism. Wether or not I agree with all of them isn't even important. I am just trying to help you become more conscious of the effects of social media on our lives and personalities. Because let's face it, growing up these days, you can't avoid or deny the influence of social media on every day life. So here's a question for you. When you post that selfie on Facebook or Instagram, how important is getting those likes to you?

We all know we spend time on Facebook or Instagram when we should be working. Or studying. Or doing chores. All of those responsibilities we have are way less fun that looking at funny cat videos, or whatever else floats your boat. So let me ask you this, how much time do you really spend on social media (while you should be doing something else)? Honestly? 

This one is an easy one. Practically giving it away here. With all of our pictures online at all times, just think how easy it is to find pictures with skin exposed. How accessible porn is, to anyone. Not just to you, or your significant other, but also to your children, whom you might allow use of your smartphones, laptops or tablets etc. 

All of these social media apps have made it so much easier to look at the lives of those around us. So much easier to find that proverbial 'greener grass'. How often do you find yourself thinking, I wish my life were as awesome as his or hers? Ask yourself how happy looking at the perfect outtakes of other people's lives really makes you. How often do you compare yourself and your life to what you see from others?

May I just say Online shopping? Does that need any further explanation? Besides, with all of the cookies activated on every website and everything we search for, all we do gets saved somewhere and next thing you know shows up as an advertisement on your Facebook newsfeed, or in your Google search results... It's all temptation my friends. And it's all about how you handle it that makes the difference. 

This one is might not be as clear as some of the other subjects we've looked at so far. And I just recently started to think about this. Because I love cooking, so for every party or event we go to, I make something to share. Whether it's cake, cupcakes, appetizers or snacks, Pinterest has become my recipe bible. In the olden days we couldn't just ask google for the best spinach dip recipes though. They would be passed on from generation to generation, or simply verbally at parties. So the accessibility to recipes has gone up. Much easier now to find delicious recipes and tempt us give in to making more delicious gluttonous treats! Especially because it takes so little effort to find recipes. 

Social media has lowered a lot of thresholds all around. And if it is easier to communicate online, that also makes it easier to hold grudges. It became a lot simpler to express ourselves to others. But at the same time we also have to be mindful of the fact that what we say online is now in writing, out there in the world. And once it is out there, you can never truly take it back. And we can hurt people like this. 
Breaking up with someone through social media, which doesn't leave any room for real closure, or another clear example I'd like to address is cyber bullying. By using social media to channel or pass on our angry or hurt feelings, we can do a lot of damage. Cyber bullying can destroy lives. So I can not stress this enough. If you and or your children use social media, be mindful of the way it is used and the effects. 

As I said before, the reason why I dove into this is not because I feel all social media should be banned. I believe they all serve their purpose. All I am trying to accomplish is to help you become a little more conscious of what social media could mean for you and your confidence level. Because let me ask you this. How does looking at the most perfect outtakes of other people's lives really make you feel? What do you get out of seeing through that tiny window into someone else's life which is only showing you the best of what they experience, and not the underlying thoughts and feelings? What does that do with you? 
If you can be honest with yourself and really reflect on what it does with you, than I can say I am happy I wrote this post. I hope we can all keep in mind that what we see of people in social media is merely an outtake of a very small portion of their lives. We never know what truly goes on. 

So with that notion I'd like to end. Where the use of social media is concerned, please be mindful. Let us just be conscious digital people.