I want to share 6 Social Media practices that will make you happier. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, TikTok, Snapchat, KIK…the list of Social Media platforms goes on and on. Like almost everything in life, there’s a positive and negative side to being on one of these platforms. Let’s look at some of them:
You can connect with old friends, classmates and even relatives with whom you’ve lost touch.
You can “visit” places in the world you might never get to see without Social Media.
You may be able to interact with celebrities whom you might not talk to in person.
You can get news faster than through almost any other avenue.
You can make new friends from all over the world.
Not So Positive
You can get addicted to Social Media and let your real life and real interactions with people suffer.
You can be bullied.
You may be found by people from your past who you’d just as soon forget.
Your privacy is pretty much out the window.
You can be scammed by people impersonating other people.
Frustration and Unhappiness
Yes, Social Media can be frustrating and, sometimes, just downright depressing. Some people, like my wife, Joyce, don’t get on Social Media and don’t want to be on it. (If you’re a member of that same club, feel free to either read on or go to another post!) Others, after giving it a try, leave a platform for this reason or that. I had a friend who closed his Facebook account because every post became a place for his “friends” to beat up on his opinions. Sometimes, the arguments would breakout between commenters themselves. He finally had enough.
Yes, despite the positive aspects of Social Media, there is a lot that can happen on these platforms to make you unhappy. In this post, I’m going to suggest six practices. If you implement them, should allow you to partake of the Social Media benefits and be happier about it.
Just for the record, I’ve been on Twitter for 12 1/3 years, on Facebook for 14 years, and on Instagram for 9 1/3 years. Much of what I’m sharing with you today I learned at the school of hard knocks. My hope is that you’ll be smarter than I was and learn by reading.
Understand that not everything posted on a Social Media site is your business, even when you are friends with or follow a person. I’ll give you two examples.
Recently, one of my friends posted a group of pictures showing her in a yellow outfit. I gave the post a “Like” and commented “You know I love it when you wear my favorite color!!” (I made the comment because, duh, yellow IS my favorite color and she already knows that.) Innocent enough statement, don’t you agree? As it turns out, my friend is actually an on-air personality and has a fan page beside her personal page. (Fan pages only allow you to follow someone, not be friends with them.) These pictures happen to be on her fan page and not her personal page (where I am one of her friends).
For some reason, another person created a screen capture of her post and my comment and sent it to one of my relatives. Apparently, they wondered why I was making this comment to someone I didn’t know. My response to my relative who asked me about it was: “Someone” (the person who created the screenshot, not my relative) “needs to mind their own business!” By the way, the next day my friend responded favorably to my comment.
A friend of mine on one of the Social Media platforms hadn’t posted anything for about two weeks. Finally, she posted explaining to everyone that she “had a health issue and that’s why she was absent for a few weeks but she was better now and all was good.” When I read her post, of course, I was curious as to what had been wrong but I didn’t ask her because…wait for it…it was none of my business. If she had wanted her online friends to know what the health issue was, she would have included that in her post. Unfortunately, a few of her friends asked in the comments what had been wrong. She awkwardly replied that she preferred to not say.
In both of these examples, it would have been a good idea to not make assumptions. In example #1, the screen grabber seemed to assume that I didn’t know the woman in the pictures; while, in example #2, some of the woman’s friends assumed it was okay for them to ask what was wrong. And assuming leads us to the next Social Media practice.
Train yourself to not making assumptions based on a Social Media post. Besides the two examples I gave you above, here’s another time making an assumption would lead you down the wrong path:
If you follow me on any of the platforms I’m on, you probably know that besides a lot of pictures of Gus, squirrels, birds, alligators and bobcats, I sometimes share Rest In Peace posts. Often, when a well-known person passes away, I will upload their picture and include “R.I.P.” along with their name. Occasionally, I will add some verbiage but usually I keep it pretty simple.
When I post these Rest In Peace messages, you might think it’s okay to assume that I’m a fan of the person who passed away. While that is often true, it’s not always. In the past, I’ve posted R.I.P. for musicians whose music I couldn’t stand and for politicians with whom I disagreed 100% of the time. I post these kinds of messages in recognition of the work he or she did or the life they lived or what they accomplished. Assuming that I was a fan of theirs would be a mistake. As we learned a long time ago, when you assume you make… (you know the rest of the statement.)
Speaking of famous people, that leads me to practice #3.
If you’re in my age range, you might have heard one of your parents utter the same axiom that I often heard my mother say. It was something like: “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” I’m telling you, if everyone on Social Media lived by that statement, the only happier place on Earth would be Walt Disney World.
Of course, I have an example. When Rush Limbaugh passed away earlier this year, I uploaded one of my previously described Rest In Peace posts. Again, when I posted it, I didn’t care whether my friends loved him or hated him, I simply wanted to acknowledge the passing of a man who accomplished far more in his life as a broadcaster than most others in that business could even dream of.
Unfortunately, one of my friends decided that it was okay to post a derogatory comment under the post. The action I took falls under the next practice.
This practice is simple: learn to use the Social Media tools that the different platforms provide. What tools am I talking about? Well, they vary a bit among platforms but here’s a list of many of them:
- Delete: If an unacceptable comment is placed on one of your posts, you can delete it.
- Mute: If you are friends with someone but you don’t want to see his or her posts, you can mute them. Nothing really changes except you don’t see their posts.
- Block: if someone is totally inappropriate or is “stalking” you, you can simply block them. They won’t see when you’re online and you won’t receive their messages.
- Unfriend/Unfollow: There’s a meme I really appreciate. It says, “It’s hard to soar like an eagle when you’re surrounded by turkeys.” If you suddenly realize that someone who is a friend or who you follow is a turkey, unfriend/unfollow them.
- Report: If someone’s account seems totally inappropriate to you, you can report them. There’s no guarantee that they’ll be banned by the platform but most will block (from you) anyone you report.
- Security Settings: One of the major problems I see that cause people to get into trouble on Social Media is that they don’t learn how to properly lock down their profiles, etc. If there’s an interest, I’ll create some blog posts or some videos on how to make yourself secure on Social Media.
In case you’re wondering what I did with the negative comment I mentioned in Practice #3, I deleted it. Luckily, the person who made the comment didn’t come back to try again. Otherwise, I would have used a different tool – I probably would have unfriended them.
This is a practice I live by: lift other people up! Use Social Media to congratulate your friends and followers on their accomplishments; to celebrate their special days; and to share positive words when they are going through one of life’s trials. As the great motivator Zig Ziglar used to say, “If you go out looking for friends, you’re going to find they are very scarce. If you go out to be a friend, you’ll find them everywhere.”
Be the person who lights up the room when you enter and not when you leave! (Think about that…)
My final practice suggestion is: don’t worry about the number of followers you have. Remember, Jesus only had 12 followers and He’s made a more-than-2000-year impact on the world. In Instagram, I used to follow about 3,000 people. 3000 was a silly number of people. I never got to see everyone’s posts because I just didn’t have that many hours in the day. It’s way more important that you are friends with and/or follow people that are important to you. You’ll definitely maintain your sanity with a smaller group of people.
6 Social Media Practices That Will Make You Happier – Wrap-Up
Here’s the truth: you, as an individual, aren’t going to change a Social Media platform into Utopia. However, just like in the song, “Let There Be Peace On Earth,” it can begin with you! And, I believe if you put these six practices into play, you can be happier on Social Media than you were before!
4 thoughts on “6 Social Media Practices That Will Make You Happier”
So true, and something I try to adhere to!
Karen – Glad to hear it! ~John
John, thank youfor this blog. I rarely do much with Social Media, but I certainly have experienced many of the bad outcomes you highlighted. Such excellent advice.
Jerry…Thanks for your comment. I’m sorry you’ve had some of those negative experiences. Practice #4 has really helped me have less stress on Social Media! Also, I’m delighted you found my advice helpful.
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