I just want to drop some truth today. I’m guilty of this. You likely are, too. Facebook. Instagram. Snapchat. Social media!
Oh, don’t act like you don’t know what I’m talking about. Posting photos with your friends after a fun evening. Posting selfies at this location, at that thing, and the list goes on.
Like I said, I too, am guilty.
Have you ever stopped to think about what you’re really doing with some of your posts? Or, maybe you are genuinely sharing with your cadre of socially networked friends.
Here’s the truth: It’s bragging.
It’s okay. Take a gasp of air. Be a little appalled at that statement. I was, too.
My husband and I often discuss social media. I want to quit it on a regular basis, but I can’t. I’m sucked in – just like you!
One night, recently, I was talking with him about something I saw on my feed, and for some reason, it bothered me. I can’t even remember now what it was, but to a man who isn’t on Facebook, nor cares what other people think, he helped me realize what I was stewing about did not matter one little bit! He also told me he believes the majority of posts on social media were, for the most part, braggadocios.
At first, I defended my Facebook affliction. But, the more I thought about what he said, the more it resonated with me.
I don’t consider myself to be braggadocios. I try to be quite humble, mostly. But then I jump on Facebook and jump on the bandwagon posing selfies with my friends.
I see photos with groups of people and think, “I need to post my stuff!” Or, “I did this cool thing with this person. I should post to Facebook (or Instagram).”
Why do we do this to ourselves? I think the people that can scroll through Facebook without having any kind of emotional reaction – positive or negative – are most definitely robots.
We’re human. We’re flawed. We’re jealous. Curious. Proud.
Social media feeds on our weaknesses.
I think it’s time we quit fueling it.
Don’t worry, I don’t mean you need to log off forever. (You’re glad I gave you permission to stay connected, right?) And, I’m not campaigning for a social media fast.
What I am asking you to do – that is if you’re still with me and haven’t switched over to post something right now – is this: consider the ins/outs and ramifications of what you wish to post. Believe me, taking time to think about it could potentially save you some headaches and heartache.
• WHO will be seeing this post?
When you tag friends in your post, you open yourself – and all the individuals within that tagged photo – up to multiple audiences, many of whom you don’t know. Do you want these friends of friends and who-knows-who seeing photos of you, your family? What if you post a photo of your child on a sports team to your “friends-only” list but tag two other moms?! Now, their friends can see that particular photo of your child. Would you like your friends to open up their friends list to view photos of your children?
What about other friends who may be part of your regular circle, but they aren’t in the photo for whatever reason (likely not purposeful and definitely not malicious)? I’ve been on both sides of this coin, you bet. I’ve seen a micro-circle of friends together and felt sad because I wasn’t part of whatever festivities were happening, and I’ve had friends pull me aside and ask, “WTH woman?! Why wasn’t I included in that ‘thing’?”
I’m sure, at this point, you’re thinking, “Seriously lady? I don’t give a hoot and if I have friends on my list who feel that way, well, that’s their problem.” Weeeellll…it’s kinda your problem. Keep reading.
• WHAT am I posting?
You have a personal brand. Seriously! Everything you post online reflects the person you are, or at least the person you are perceived as. And, believe it or not, perception is reality, and the online reality you present it continuously up for interpretation by those with whom you’re connected.
I was raised in the emergent technology era (you know, the time of the Commodore 64, Macintosh Plus, floppy disc, etc), and at that time, we were taught that reputation was everything. When you went on a field trip, by gosh, you represent yourself and the school you attend. In other words, don’t screw it up, kid!
In today’s society, your reputation isn’t just about who you are when you leave your home, it’s also about who you are IN your home, ON the Internet! Nowadays, it’s even more important to ensure you represent yourself to the highest degree. Do you want a future employer, a potential client, potential friend, parents of your children’s friends, etc., not just seeing but PERCEIVING you in a manner that’s potentially harmful to your reputation? Of course not!
• WHEN are you making the post?
Wait! Stop. Seriously! I don’t care what the unwritten rules are about social media, no one says you have to post anything immediately! I mean, there is such thing as #latergram. But, for real, just because something is happening NOW, doesn’t mean you need to post in real time. Consider all the Ws and H I’m offering in this post. Take some time, trust the process, and thank me later.
• From WHERE are you doing the posting?
I’m sure you’ve either read or heard this before, but it bears repeating. Be mindful of your location and wait to post those vacation photos until you get home. Do you completely trust all 500+ friends on your social media network? Really? Like, you explicitly trust ALL of these people with a key to your house? Because, that’s basically what you’re doing when you post photos from a location while you’re away from your home. And finally, does the location from where you are making the post and “checking in” reflect the reputation – personal brand – you’re working to maintain?
• HOW do you decide what to share?
“Okay lady, so how do we decide what exactly TO share?” Yes, yes. I know this may sound crazy, but remember what I said about your personal brand? How you present what you post impacts your reputation. Your personal brand. Are you a health advocate offering information about your own journey for encouragement and inspiration? Then go ahead, post that selfie at the gym! Let me see your healthy food. Are you a jet setter with loads of experience? Cool! I wanna see your adventures. An outdoor enthusiast? Yes! Show me your gear and dazzle me with some landscapes! Get the idea? Always keeping in mind your personal brand and goals you’ve set for yourself and your family is the difference between an authentic post and one that is braggadocios.
On social media, it’s easy to think you’re sharing an update with five of your best friends (likely because these people are the ones who regularly interact with your posts). The reality is you are actually sharing your life with a large array of acquaintances. This bring us to our final point.
• WHY do I need to share?
Before you answer, I have to say this: Right here, is where we struggle, and why social media advertising is so lucrative. We’re suckers for the human element. We’re nosy. Curious. Proud. Flawed. Just as I mentioned earlier, were wrapped up in our own worlds.
The “why” behind what it is we want to post is often difficult to decipher, but if properly considered, it can save some heartache and headache. Are you posting for attention? Are you giddy with each thumbs-up you receive? Do you live for new followers? What are you missing in your present life that drives these desires. For the time being, those questions must be left for a much deeper post (and likely a list of non-fiction books and helpful podcasts on the subject).
The truth I want to leave you with is this: your self worth is NOT derived from attention on social media. It’s not! I can promise you won’t feel long-term happiness or experience life satisfaction through reactions on social media. It’s okay to admit. We shouldn’t allow our worlds to revolve around it, yet we do day in and day out.
As I was pondering what to leave you with on this post, I paused my thoughts and took some time to look through my son’s schoolwork that had been left on the kitchen counter. I shuffled through a few papers and discovered a worksheet he’s completed a couple weeks ago during his time in Awana. And there it was, starring me in the face. A simplistic summary of all that had been circling in my head that I offered to you through this post.
It’s a word and acronym all in one that you and I both can carry with us and put to use in our daily lives, but especially useful when sharing on social media.
T – Is it true?
H – Is it helpful?
I – Is it inspiring?
N – Is it necessary?
K – Is it kind?
My guess is that nine out of 10 parents would agree they want their child to learn and practice these behaviors in their day-to-day life. Doesn’t it make sense that if we expect these behaviors from our children, we need to set that example, even in the computerized version of ourselves? I think so. Here’s to all the luck we will both need to keep it real and THINK before we share.▪️