I have been learning so much about social media, and the many platforms. In doing so I have also been reflecting on my personal life and the impact that social media has had on me. I thought of some of my life’s biggest moments: wedding, birth of my children, loss of my mother; and some small moments: birthdays, fun activities, and my writing career.
So many articles on this topic are extreme to one side or the other, either that social media makes you lose the human connection, or that it is necessary and is creating a more globalized social structure. In my experience it’s both, a road right down the middle.
Here is my list of pros and cons, and what I have learned along the way.
- I can catch up. I now have information about so many people from my life’s story. I know where they are, what they are doing, and what is important in their life. Many, I would not still be in contact with if it were not for the online presence. It also makes it possible when I meet a new friend to see where they came from and what is important to them.
- My Grandma thinks I am a great family member. What?!? Yes, this is one of the pros. My Grandmother is not online, but when she asks about one of my cousins, I can often tell her what they are up to, and even show her pictures. Automatic good graces and status of quality family contributor.
- Today may not be a holiday, but it’s reason to celebrate as it is most likely, someones birthday, somewhere. It’s like a built-in calendar for candles and song.
- Business and Marketing. One of my friends recently said, “I never used Facebook very much, until I started my own business.” The reach is amazing, and if used correctly, can make a huge impact on business success. It also has been such a huge learning tool for me in my new business. Learning the in’s and out’s and connecting with people in the right places.
- Distance is not a factor. I can keep in touch with anyone, anywhere. It doesn’t matter how far away they are, I can still view pictures and see just what they are seeing. Refer to Grandma. Those pictures of cousins in other states and even countries-can’t be beat!
- Major high fives. Likes, Loves, Comments… I can share news or exciting information with all of my “friends”. Even if they are not someone I would likely still be in contact with today, they can like something and show support. It’s so easy to click a button in support and feel like you were a good friend-because it does matter. When a child comes into the world-huge kudos to show of that new little one-from everywhere and everyone. Who can resist commenting on a picture of a new baby? Not me.
- It makes it easier to be absent. A like or a comment in a post along with others is no substitute for real connection. I watch this more carefully than I have in the past. I realized, when my mother passed away and the well wishes came flowing in under the comments of a picture, that it was great to have all the extra support. Until one of my dearest friends also posted that way. No phone call, no private message, no card, no email. It was easy to check the box of support by a simple comment. Clearly missing the mark.
- Conclusions can be made, and Feelings can be hurt. It is so much easier to read words, or see pictures, and miss the actual meaning in an assumption. I am the first to admit that I have read posts or comments, some not even directed at me, and still felt offended and hurt. Upon reflection, usually I can see that it was never meant the way it was taken, but it happens, all too often.
- When it’s posted, it’s out there. Everything you post is public. Even when you set it to private, things get out. Whether later by word of mouth by one of your friends, a screen shot, or an issue with privacy settings. What you post, can impact your future, or even your now. It’s a record of you. Who you are inside and out. People will judge, they will question, and they will talk.
- It makes it easier to support. It’s hard sometimes to see what is really great and important, because it is so easy to click like, comment, or love. I have noticed on some of my posts that the likes don’t always reflect the views on the article I shared. This tells me that people are supporting me (thank you so much) but I’m not really sure if they even read it. Don’t get me wrong, I love the support, but the clicks count too, so I am adjusting my own actions accordingly.
- It’s your birthday? I have not yet listed my birthday on any social media sites. I am not sure why, but it’s a connection thing for me. I guess I would feel a little silly if people were sending messages, and I know that the only reason they know this is through social media. It feels a little distant I guess and just isn’t something I get. Many say, “why not? The birthday wishes are fun”-so meh…that’s just me.
Looking at my list I realized that there are a few things I want to do differently.
- I will be an active participant in the life’s of people who matter most. Outside of social media, I will call when needed, send a card when possible, and try have the personal connection.
- I will support my friends and their businesses because I see how important it is, and the impact it can have. I will still click like. It’s easy to support.
- I will take it one step farther when necessary with a personal comment or message to say, “this was great” or “how are you really”
- I will filter my thoughts. Making sure to think before I post, hoping not to offend or upset another. I want to make sure my actions will make me proud in the future.
- I will keep making new friends, learning more about others and life, and sharing my experiences as I go along. Social Media can be fun and I am really thankful for those I get to connect with. Even if it’s only online!
I am also learning more about the hierarchy of social support. From basic to more advanced:
- A click: Like, Love, Favorite
- A public comment, Retweet
- A private/personal message
- An Email/public share
- A Phone Call
- A letter/Card
- Own post/topic in show of support
- A personal visit/hug/high-five