Social media has a bad reputation. It’s a toxic environment where extreme ideas and abuse are plentiful. People are always selling to you and happy to throw an insult or five if you disagree. Avoid it for your mental health, we’re so often told.
These past couple of weeks I’ve found it a comfort. I’ve learnt a lot and found some interesting and insightful opinions and ideas. There have been times I’ve laughed, a few where I’ve screamed at the screen. Some people have helped me out, I hope I’ve helped others out too.
Muted Twitter is really good
Twitter has been an unexpected source of comfort. Having muted Trump, Corbyn, Brexit and a few other things, I’ve rediscovered a world of sustainability, small business advocacy and sarcasm. Sometimes I’ve allowed the chaos to come back in, but it’s been because I wanted it.
My outgoing activity has been a bit more “eclectic”. If I’ve found something interesting I’ve joined in or retweeted it. My feed has become more chaotic, less focused and maybe a better representation of “me”.
Inspire me with pictures and words
Instagram has returned to the mix. It’s a source of inspiration, satisfying my need to enjoy art and photography and overwhelmingly positive. I’ve shared daily (sometimes more often). It hasn’t been about chasing followers or “influence” – whatever that is. What I share is stuff I like. That others like it is a bonus.
The same goes for Pinterest and Flickr. Pinterest has been a source of inspiration for my random attempts at graphic design, while Flickr has reminded me I was once a half-decent photographer and might become one again.
Then there’s LinkedIn. I dropped off the radar straight after Christmas, but I’ve drifted slowly back. Mostly I share articles I’ve found along the way, adding a few comments here and there. Once all the current messiness is over, I’ll write more serious work again. I can’t deny I haven’t felt the urge to abuse the long-form posts from time to time, but as they say: LinkedIn isn’t Facebook.
Facebook? No thanks
My use of Facebook is a bit random to say the least. After amassing thousands of “friends” I set my account to private and removed everyone but the people I knew personally. Needless to say, this has made for a quieter experience and a more reflective one. Instead of wading through piles of irrelevant rubbish, I now enjoy finding out what my real friends are up to.
Farewell Google Plus, Tumblr etc
There were a few social media accounts that I decided to wave goodbye to. They were draining energy and time away from the things that mattered to me most. So I waved goodbye to Google Plus, disengaged from Ello, turned my back on Tumblr and discovered I still have a Myspace account (no, seriously!) Moving their bookmarks away from my favourites and into the “I’ve got accounts here, but don’t worry about it” file was a liberation. They no longer glared at me each time I opened a new browser window, demanding attention they didn’t deserve.
Lessons for using social media for good
Along the way I think I’ve learnt to use Social Media in a more positive way. I’ve rediscovered the “social” aspects and turned my back on the pressure to be liked, not to offend or take a stance. Were someone to ask me for my advice, I think it would be:
- Focus on the social media platforms you feel benefit you most
- Muting words and accounts can keep unpleasantness away – just remember to dip back into unfiltered reality once in a while
- Chasing followers is a fool’s game. Just share what you like and take a little pleasure when someone “likes” it
- Add to the positive. Inspirational doesn’t need a huge font quote on an image of clouds: it might just be a quirky aside that prompts someone to think
- Above all: have fun, and when it stops being fun – stop.
Here’s to happy social media!