Most of us have mixed feelings about social media. We love it and we hate it all at the same time. Statistics support this dichotomy. There has been some interesting research and articles on social media depression. Check out this statement from NaturalNews.com:
“Particularly with so-called “social” media, which includes popular websites such as Facebook and Twitter, the erosion of true friendships and their replacement with shallow and oftentimes meaningless online connections is having a devastating impact on society, as the human need for real connection is becoming increasingly harder to find. In the absence of genuine relationships and love, having multiple media sources active and engaged at all times is the only way that some people can cope, but it can also lead to mental illness.”
News Flash: There simply is no replacement for real, face to face, heart to heart relationships. We need them for a healthy, well balanced life.
That said, social media is going no where. We will continue to log in to the world, and so will our children.
So the question becomes, how can we make a positive impact online?
I did a little research to see what was written about this topic. There was plenty of information on how to promote through social media, and how to avoid social media, but how to encourage other people through these media sites? NOTHING. We need to think this through. People (including ourselves) are online frequently, and it is a place we can make a positive impact.
Consider these 7 ways to counteract the jealousy, insecurity, and sadness that can sometimes accompany social media sites:
1. Take the time to make an encouraging comment on someone’s picture, status update, or page.
Some days you’ll only have time for a few, other days you will scroll through pages of updates and comment. Make it a point to specifically encourage someone, or offer positive words on their status. Beyond simply “liking” the update, this actually engages the other person and let’s him/her know you cared enough to take the extra step and comment.
2. Keep your own posts positive.
There are a couple of people who encourage me daily online through their status updates. The words used are ones of inspiration. I often think back to those comments, and it creates in me a desire to live my life better. We can do this for each other simply by intentionally spinning the words of our update positively.
3. Avoid “fighting” online.
This may seem obvious, but getting into an argument over a comment or status update will most likely not change another person’s mind, but instead foster ill will and hard feelings. Beyond that, others online witness the battle and the negative tone creates a ripple effect. We know the difference between “fighting” and “engaging.” The online fighting has been named “cyber bullying.” If you feel someone is crossing the line, find a way to kindly end the conversation.
4. Pray for people.
When I hop on to Facebook, there often is an update from someone who is going through something difficult, or particularly exciting. In both cases, it is an opportunity to pray for those friends and focus on the matter at hand. This exercise cures self focus, and allows me to center on others and what is going on in their lives.
5. Avoid sending covert messages to specific people through status updates or posts.
Many people will post a status or quote to send a “message” to someone who has hurt him/her. The teen culture calls this “sub-tweeting,” and it’s a widely used phenomenon. This can be especially true of teens who are still learning healthy communication (though I see adults do this also). Instead, have the courage to communicate directly with that person. Not only is it healthier and more apt to have a positive outcome, it also will keep drama to a minimum.
5. Reach out to others.
Whether is is through a private message, or through a picture posted on a wall, reach out to people. Show them you care. Demonstrate kindness by going out of your way to seek out connection.
6. Be as inclusive as possible.
If you are hosting or organizing an event publicly, consider an inclusive, rather than exclusive approach.
7. Practice the golden rule.
Treat others the way you want to be treated. If you follow this bedrock mantra, you are bound to make a positive impact.
When we are online, the temptation is compare who we are and how we are living to others. This can sometimes lead to anxiety, insecurity, or depression.
When we remove the glasses of self, and put on the lens of others, our perspective changes and not only are we healthier in our approach to social media, but we are able to make a difference in our virtual worlds!