Despite its critics, I am a big believer in social media as a fabulous tool we have to reach out and make even more connections with like-minded people that we would have been able to do at any other time. Through sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, Instagram we can share moments from our lives, our thoughts, ideas, images and drop in on other’s fascinating life stories. If we have had life-altering experiences, illness, loss, trauma or face challenges, connecting with others who have faced similar difficulties allows us to understand we are not alone and offers us support and other resources. We can find people who share the same interests as us around the globe and also explore the meaning behind the events that happen in our lives. To me, this is an exciting evolutionary tool that has the ability to make us all see how intrinsically connected we all are.
However, there is always a downside to everything no matter how beneficial it is overall. Social networking sites have been linked to a rise in narcissism, feelings of grandiosity or else feelings of failure and inadequacy – the latter being brought about when we may be facing challenges in our own lives but the posts of our ‘friends’ on social networking sites appear to be telling a very different story – one of unremitting success and good times. All of which of course, raises the all-important question of whether our social media self is actually a reflection of our authentic self or someone we have in fact ‘made up’ – a public persona. At which point, we have become our own spin-doctors.
Ask anyone who has had a bad internet dating experience or has met someone they befriended on line only to discover that in person they were very different from their ‘on line’ profile and you will know what I am talking about here. The internet gives us the opportunity to create the person we’d like to be – as opposed to who we are, and even when we are connected to family and friends who know us in real life, just like a PR exec we can choose to edit what we post about ourselves on line giving a rose-tinted version of what may be going on in our lives at best or an entirely false one at worst. Now, I would say that social media is not the best platform for venting your long term problems or traumas as these are best resolved on a soul level within yourself with the help of family, close friends and professionals where necessary. But pretending your life is one long success party when it’s not is another matter entirely. Think back a moment to high school. When we’re in our teens we want to fit in and be popular, right? Chances are at some point all of us made out we were more popular/busier/leading very exciting lives than we actually were just because we didn’t want to appear to be the opposite! When we get older we realise this and are able to smile not only at our own attempts at this but also we see that even those we thought were the ‘popular’ kids were in fact resorting to the same tactics and were every bit as insecure as we were! The problem with a lot of what goes on with social media is that we can end up re-visiting this kind of behaviour as adults – which is counterproductive to making those real connections – even on-line ones.
While social media is not the place to vent as such, and we know upbeat, positive images and announcements get more likes than the opposite, there’s actually no need to pretend things are going well for you when they’re not. It’s all down to how you choose to share the information. And again, then things are going well for you, it’s all in the sharing which is what social media is really all about. Let’s say for example that your biggest soul and life challenge at the moment is finding a job as you’ve been out of work for some time. There’s a big difference between a posting which says ‘Fed up with applying for over 500 jobs in six months and getting nowhere. Why bother?’ and one that says ‘Keeping on-track and positive during my job search can be challenging. It’s been six months now. Has anyone else out there got any experience/tips to share?’ You’re not glossing over the situation but you are coming from a pro-active position and what’s more, you are inviting others to share their experiences too – which may not only help you but help anyone currently in a similar situation.
In the age of the selfie we can say social media is of course, primarily about ourselves – how we choose let others see us, what we share about ourselves but at the end of the day, it should be a reflection of who we really are. When we do this we find that not only have we made real connections – even if they are just on-line, but the people we are connected with support and resonate with us. You have the power to change the world – or at least the lives of the people you connect with simply by being YOU, So, let your social media presence be a mirror of who you are- not just a selfie – because at the end of the day there is no one quite like yourself – so let your true self shine through!
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