Most of us have social media accounts or have spent some time on social media. Whether you joined up with Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram or others, dipping your toe in the social media ocean can be an overwhelming and not always positive experience.
Humans are social creatures, but that doesn’t mean we always get along. Unlike in real life, where you’ll rarely find yourself barging into other people’s conversations, social media constantly puts ongoing debates, arguments and fights in front of us, and no matter how much we might want to stay out of it, often we find ourselves drawn into negativity.
The people who write social media algorithms aren’t necessarily concerned about whether our social interaction is good or bad. They just want to get us talking and constantly returning to their platform, and they will use every trick in the book to keep us hooked.
The other problem is that social media is so immediate. Thoughts and ideas that might have gone unexpressed in the real world, giving us time to think them through, can be sent out into the cyber world in seconds, and the net result of all of these unfiltered opinions can often be hostility, negativity and a generally depressing social media environment.
But it need not be this way. Even if you are Mark Green running for office in a polarized political environment, it is possible to use social media in a positive way, encouraging dialogue, spreading hope and sharing joy, rather than attacking or denigrating. Here is a quick guide to the best ways to use social media to promote positivity and wellbeing.
While the immediacy of social media can lead us to type out things we would never dream of saying out loud, the flip side of this is that we can more easily share positive, loving thoughts that natural reserve or awkwardness might make it hard for us to say in person. If you see someone online in need of support, love or just a kind word, then it only takes a few seconds to send a message of love or to offer help.
Connect with family and friends
Another positive aspect of social media is that it allows us to connect with friends and family. Instead of debating politics with your family, why not share some of the latest family news or talk about issues of relevance affecting your daily lives. This is particularly important if your family and friends live far away. For millions of people all over the world, social media is a wonderful way of staying in touch with loved ones, and by using it as a tool for deepening family connections, you will be helping to turn social media into a positive force.
No matter what stage of life you are at or what you’ve been through, you will have picked up knowledge, understanding and experience, and someone out there will be able to benefit from it. If you come across a message online and you immediately think, “I know the answer to that!” or “I can help!” then go right ahead! Previously, wisdom could only be passed on face to face or through books, but social media gives us the chance to help others benefit from our knowledge, which in turn helps to boost our sense of wellbeing.
Follow inspiring accounts
When it comes to social media, you can choose your own environment, something that isn’t always possible in real life! If people you are connected with through social media are adding only negativity or unpleasantness to your online experience, there is no need to continue following them. Instead, focus on connecting with people who inspire and encourage you with their words and deeds. Let social media be a daily source of motivation and inspiration.
Social media is also a good way to raise awareness of issues that are important to you. Maybe you want to highlight the plight of LGBT people in Russia, or you want to show your support for trans people in the US. Social media can be a great way to explain and raise awareness in the wider world. By building bridges of understanding, rather than simply attacking or defending, you can give yourself a huge sense of accomplishment and satisfaction.
Finally, there is a golden rule on social media, and it’s the one your mother taught you: if you can’t say something pleasant, then say nothing! Always think twice before you send a tweet or a Facebook message, particularly if you are feeling angry, upset or emotional. The social media world we live in is the one we create, and the process of turning your social media experience into a positive one starts with your own actions.