Let’s face it. We have lived to see the day when social media has become an irreplaceable conduit of communication and sharing, and source of news and entertainment. Facebook, for instance, has become very powerful that, sometimes, it even serves as a benchmark on whether two people are in good terms or not. More than just a fad, social media is a fundamental shift in the way people communicate. However, whether it is a good thing or a bad thing depends on how we make use of it.
Most of us might have had the thought of shutting down our Facebook accounts (and similar accounts) crossed our minds. But apparently, we still haven’t mustered enough will and motivation to bring it about. But like what we are always taught, a misdeed comes not from a thing, but, from a misuse of a thing. So, before condemning Facebook altogether, let’s take a look at some guidelines on how we can make the most out of social media without letting it rule us.
1. Stick to its primary purpose
In the website of the Digital Communications department of Tufts University, social media is defined as a “term used to collectively describe a set of tools that foster interaction, discussion and community, allowing people to build relationships and share information.” Based on this definition, social media’s main functions are for communication and sharing.
It is especially beneficial between people separated by distance and for reuniting and catching up with friends. Imagine how convenient it is to contain nearly all of the people in our life in one intuitively designed webpage—neatly categorized by affiliation and relationship, complete with thumbnails next to their names—click that button and communicate to anyone in an instant. Social media is also ideal for sharing information, news, ideas, and interests to one another. When maximized, it can also improve career, aid causes and organizations, and enhance businesses.
However, when we go beyond these purposes such as when we use social media for gossiping, stalking, bashing, carelessly spreading unverified news items, and posting idle, trivial updates by the minute, we limit, if not degrade, its great potential.
2. Align it with our goal in life
Our online profiles reflect who we are. A quick browse on our status messages, photos, and posts will provide an overall impression on our personality and character. In Facebook, for example, we open our minds, beliefs, routine, activities, interest—-our life. If our goal is to be a light to the world, then the online representations of ourselves must also set a good example.
So instead of flooding our friends’ news feed with rants posted at the heat of the moment, daily doze of #selfie and #ootd shots, or those misleading satirical posts, why don’t we share something worthwhile and edifying? It can be a factual and well-researched news report, a substantial piece of literature, an uplifting video, and the list goes on. Of course we have the freedom to express ourselves but that freedom must be balanced and not abused. Writer Jessica Zafra wrote in her article Etiquette for Social Media: “Tweeting every thought that crosses your mind and every fart that escapes your digestive system is tiresome and symptomatic of extreme self-absorption, but it is within your rights…[but] they could be used as evidence of your shallowness and narcissism.”
3. Think before posting
Describing Facebook as “catastrophic” to relationships, writer Preston Waters states that: “We have all experienced the detrimental effects of Facebook on our relationship at some point or another. Perhaps the most important social media tool to have ever been created has taken its toll on at least one of your relationships.” There are several factors involved in this assertion but one way to solve it is to think before posting anything. Let’s ask ourselves: “Do I really want to be associated with this post forever?” or “Is this comment beneficial”? According to a recent study, 1 out of 4 young adults regret their social media posts. In the article of Vignesh Ramachandran in Mashable.com, he pointed out that “…sometimes, emotionally charged posts or questionable content can come back to bite you.” And they sure do.
Consequently, we should be mindful of the things we post online to avoid conflicts. Jessica Zafra, in the same article, said: “Often, people post something on Facebook that is taken out of context, misinterpreted, or read by someone in a very bad mood. Quarrels ensue.” In line with this, it’s wise to avoid picking up a fight in a public arena, dragging down a long thread of heated exchanges where others are free to meddle with.
Thinking before posting allows us to foster interactions that sow peace and unity, not discord and division. As previously defined, social networking sites are designed to build relationships, not ruin them. The real world is complicated enough, why make the virtual world even more chaotic?
4. Keep privacy intact
Apart from maintaining a good reputation and pursuing peace, it is also important not to swing the door to our lives wide open for the whole netizen community to pry over. Numerous crimes happen simply because people unwittingly volunteer personal information on their online profiles. On a different but related note, scandals happen when people publicly share something inappropriate or confidential that eventually becomes irreversibly viral, much to their regret. And that is one costly price to pay for letting our lapse of judgment get the best of us. So it is only wise to keep our lives private rather than display it openly and habitually.
5. Do not waste time
Sitting in front of Facebook has proven to obliterate wee hours of our otherwise productive time. How can we beat that? I believe that if we stick to what social media is for, align it with our spiritual goals, don’t wear our heart on our sleeves, and remain extra careful, we will not only save time and energy, but also protect our dignity and hold our peace.
While we enjoy an easy access to technology right at our fingertips, we bear the responsibility for what we do in cyber space. When we log in to the Internet, we enter in a new world of virtual reality and we have social media at our disposal. And it’s up to us whether it will make us or break us.
http://webcomm.tufts.edu/web-resources-tufts/social-media-overview/ http://www.interaksyon.com/article/61677/jessica-zafra–etiquette-for-social-media http://mashable.com/2013/07/28/social-media-regrets-survey/ http://elitedaily.com/dating/13-ways-facebook-ruins-relationship/
Featured photo originally from http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2302237