There are tons of words, articles, and books that exist that speak of the horrors of social media — how it’s toxic, how it’s decaying our brains, how it’s the least social thing you can do, how it ruins our self-esteem and our self-worth.
You know this, I know this.
I’ve written about this. A lot.
And while I still believe that social media has caused disaster and has the potential to cause more damage, I also believe that there is a way that these platforms can be a force for good. Nothing in life is one-sided. And for all the negativity that social media may cause, there is some positivity to the likes, the little squares of life, and the 280 characters in tweets.
In social media, people can find communities of support and sources of inspiration. Maybe it’s a community centered on shedding light on depression. Maybe it’s a community about another aspect of mental health altogether. Maybe it’s about finding inspiration in your career or navigating newness in healthy and productive ways. Maybe it’s about finding a community of new moms who are there to lift you up and support you. Maybe it’s about finding the best way to plan for your wedding or save for a new home. Maybe it’s the seeds of the idea that will be your new book.
Maybe it’s the knowledge that you are not alone.
Maybe it’s as simple as feeling seen on your birthday, when all of your Facebook friends send you good wishes.
Sometimes, social media can be too many voices of “no,” and “you cannot,” and “you do not belong here.”
But then there are other times when social media can be a chorus of “yes, you can,” and “please come sit with us.”
Perhaps the trick is finding out how to tune out the negative chatter and find a way to amplify the good.
I teach a workshop that is geared toward middle school students on how they can cultivate their empathy and practice a healthy use of social media and cell phone interaction. We tell our students that the cell phones are never going away — the trick is knowing how to use it, and social media, in a way that is a force for good.
We teach this to our children, our preteens, our teenagers.
We forget this as adults.
I think it’s starting with a mindset, a tiny micro-shift if you will. Every time you pick up your phone to post, or scroll, first pay attention to what you’re tuning out of around you. Are your loved ones trying to talk to you? Or are you alone? If you’re spending some solo time on the phone, that’s fine. I’d then urge you to pay attention to what you’re feeding on. The things we follow, the posts we engage with, they are our digital diet. It can make you feel satiated and satisfied like you had the most delicious salad with grilled chicken, or it can make you feel like you’re full and going to burst, as if you just had Thanksgiving dinner.
The key is you get to decide what you’re consuming. You also get to decide what you are posting — which perhaps is the biggest responsibility of all.
Every time you want to post and use your platform, I’d urge you to ask yourself the following questions: what kind of value does this add to those who will consume it? Is it adding positivity or negativity? Is it fanning the flames of hatred or pouring out waters of love? Will it hurt or will it heal?
I hope you ask yourself those questions.
And then I hope you use your platform for the force of good.