I’ve been dying to blog about this topic for quite some time, but every time I began writing, I would decide to change the topic at the last minute. Probably because I really wanted to take my time and choose my words carefully so as not to sound too persecutory or judgmental. For many people, social media has become their main means of communicating with friends and family. Everyone has social media these days–your great aunt, uncles, cousins and maybe even your grandma. In fact, recent studies have shown that eight-out-of ten North Americans typically have a FaceBook profile, Instagram and Twitter accounts. It’s gotten to the point where we’re now more likely to hear news about our friends’ and families’ lives online than we are in-person.
Writer Paula Durlofsky believes that ‘minding our virtual relationships and crafting our online personas and reputation is a relatively new way to interact with others we know, and those we don’t.’ As such, what is considered to be “socially appropriate” behaviour for our online relationships really is no different than it is for our real life ones.
Paying attention to the ways in which we interact online, what we share, and the quality of our virtual relationships is important, as they have a real impact on our lives and mental health. But happens when we don’t?
We all know people who incessantly post and overshare on social media. Whether it’s the minute-by-minute detail of their lives, relationship woes, health concerns, family issues or other personal struggles, oversharing has become a bit of a problem to say the least.
So if you struggle with this, or want to do an intervention with someone else that does–here’s some food for thought before you compose your next post:
1. Are you feeling emotional? Ask yourself this question before posting. If the answer is ‘yes’– then it might be beneficial to pick up the phone and call a ‘real’ friend or family member and chat with them instead.
2. Do your kids want you sharing potentially embarrassing information about them online? I know mine sure as hell don’t. In fact, they’ve instructed me not to. But say if your kids aren’t old enough to tell you how they feel about it? Then maybe put yourself in their shoes…Would you want a ‘permanent online record’ of everything you were doing when you were 10? How about 15 or 16? I did a lot of dumb shit when I was a teen that I definitely wouldn’t want the online world privy to.
Digital silence can be a form of self care. Taking time away from social media is not only healthy but necessary. I find that I’m at my happiest when I’m not constantly scrolling through other peoples’ feeds or frequently checking my phone. In fact, I encourage all of my PT clients to do 48 hour social media fasts when the first start training with me.
Remember, social media, was originally devised to further and assist social networking through the internet, not for chronicling every minute of our everyday lives. Can it provide long-lasting, deep connections with people? Of course. But, the people who know and love you the most are usually the ones that knew you before you had your social media accounts.