Social media has been around for well over a decade. When this all first started, we were excited to jump online and see what old friends we could find, what music we could add to our MySpace pages, and we had our own little spaces on the web that was ours and we could design to make all our own. How cool was that?
These days, signing into social media can sometimes feel like “oh boy, what are people going to be ticked off and arguing about today?”
Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and the rest have evolved (or de-volved, depending on how you see it) into a forum where people can freely post and express their feelings about everything. It’s a free web. You can post whatever you want, pretty or ugly, and that is what we all need to keep in mind.
The other side of that coin is others can also reply to those posts however they want, and that can make the situation even uglier.
The effect is real. Research indicates social media sites, Facebook in particular, can increase anxiety and decrease a person’s sense of self-worth. It also increases pressure to present a certain standard online. Many people know of the Facebook “highlight reel” where people only post positive images of themselves and families. It can actually affect others negatively and how they see their own lives.
But in all honesty, posting anything can make you a target online. You don’t even have to be the original poster to be in the line of fire. As the mom of a special needs child who publicly advocates, all I need is for someone to tag me in a post to get a whopping dose of hate. Someone can share a post of yours. You can comment on a story and say nothing rude and all. You could be offering good thoughts and well wishes. As much as we can try to be better people and shake it off, it hurts when people say mean things. Friends of mine have closed their Facebook accounts and have taken to just posting pictures of their dogs and coffee on Instagram. Apparently there is less hate for the Starbucks crowd there.
Social media can be such a lifesaver to a mom. There are amazing groups to join which can help so many from feeling alone, which can answer questions about childrearing, etc. We can stay connected to our friends while our kids have us running in multiple directions. It can help us connect with new mom friends where our kids go to school and take lessons. So what can we do to minimize the hate and stress?
- Edit Your Friends List If you don’t want to unfriend someone, but they post a lot of things that drive you crazy, go to the settings on their page and hit the “Unfollow” button. Those posts are off your newsfeed. If you really could do without that person in your life, just get rid of them.
- Watch Where You Comment National and very public sites are full of keyboard warriors and internet trolls. These are people who just post mean things with the intent of making you angry or hurting your feelings. You can choose to ignore it, or just forego commenting on those threads altogether and save yourself the stress.
- Unfollow Pages If you see a page on your newsfeed that encourages arguing or drama, cut it.
- Manage Your Online Time Give yourself an online time limit and stick to it. Don’t get sucked in.
- Just Keep Scrolling…. Come on, you are hearing Dory in your head, aren’t you? Keep it there! Not everything needs a response. Just scroll past it.
- Be Mindful Of Your Own Posts If you don’t like “highlight reel” pages, be real and tell us you need your husband to come home right now before you lose it. If you don’t like people who complain/cause drama all the time, tell us how your toddler got your Nextflix app to permanently play Moana (you’re welcome!) If you don’t like political posts, give us cat videos. For some reason, a lot of people hate food posts, so let’s see those high school pics from back in the day. Really, you were cute with those two-foot-high flammable bangs.
Social media can be a gift and a curse. We can make it more of a gift and get it back to the force of kindness and positivity we need it to be. You just have to go old school MySpace on it; sit down and work on it a bit, and make it that space on the web that is your very own.