For better or worse, social media has become an essential part of our culture. And while platforms like Facebook and Instagram are powerful ways to connect, share, and inspire, they are also powerful ways to alienate, brag, and criticize.
Women in particular seem to understand this duality of social media. After all, news feeds are a common place for cruel comments directed at others, and drastic measures to be noticed by women struggling with insecurity.
It’s our belief, however, that the problem isn’t the tool (social media) itself. The problem is the way the tool typically used.
So, as we set out on the new year, let’s all make an effort to turn toward social media in a more empowering, inclusive, and uplifting way…these five tips may help.
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5 Ways to Transform the Way You Use Social Media
1) Whatever you write, make sure you’d be willing to say it out loud.
The anonymity and instantaneousness of posting something online tends to make people forget about common decency…and the fact that words can and do hurt.
Simple litmus test: if you wouldn’t say it to the person’s face, don’t post it on their wall.
2) Feel free to be personal, but not intimate.
Being honest and vulnerable about your thoughts, beliefs, and experiences take courage and is something to be celebrated, especially online in a public forum. But we shouldn’t treater social media pages like pages of our diaries. Oversharing, passive aggressiveness and gossip never fosters positivity, so always be mindful of what, why, and how you share.
3) Set a weekly goal for spreading positivity.
Keeping in mind your own social media habits (that is, how often you’re on various platforms like Facebook, YouTube, Tumblr, Reddit, and Instagram), challenge yourself to post a certain number of positive comments per week on other people’s accounts. One kind-hearted comment can go a long way.
Also optional: sharing a heartwarming news story. No, we’re not saying to ignore the “real” world, but like balancing the ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 fatty acids in your diet, sharing a once-weekly positive quote or video can be great for overall well-being!
4) Define— and share—different metrics of personal “success.”
There’s nothing wrong with posting selfies or transformation pictures showing before and after weight loss results. But think: how else has your life changed or improved thanks to your efforts to become healthier? Consider reflecting on these as well. Shareable things to consider: sleep quality, overall energy, productivity at work, strength gains, mood, relationship with food, confidence, cooking skills, etc.
Additionally, taking the time to recognize the “non-aesthetic” changes in others will also help create a more balanced culture of change and growth, as well.
5) Unplug more.
Like later. Snap less. Put your phone in your bag and let it stay there for a while.
The next time you’re out enjoying an experience (dinner with friends, a hike in the woods, a tough gym session), make an effort to be more present. Instead of worrying about getting the perfect shot for Instagram, be there in that moment. You can always take pictures, of course, but see if you can wait until after the experience is over to go post something about it.
After all, the more connected and present we are within our lives, the more openly and lightheartedly we can engage with ourselves and others, but in “real life” and online.
Got any other practical and actionable ways to transform your social media use? Let us know in the comments below!