We live so much of our lives online; we can reach the entire world at the touch of a button. It can be an overwhelming experience on social media, especially when the loudest voices seem to carry the most negative messages. We can change that, and it can start now.
Social media negativity? Take a break!
This past year, because of our endless stream of lockdowns, I’m confident that we have all spent more time scrolling through social media than we normally would. I for one have definitely scrolled until I saw the ‘you’re all caught up’ notice, refreshed, and started again. it is easy to come across a post or a comment that you don’t agree with. Especially in a time where the internet is most people’s easiest outlet. We can then have knee jerk reactions to such posts and comments, we respond, and arguments ensue.
If you’ve never been embroiled in a comments section feud I’m sure you have read through one, you know what they are like. What starts off as a simple, but perhaps unpopular or misinterpreted comment devolves into a slanging match filled with vitriol, bitterness, and frustration. Even simply reading through those arguments can leave a sour taste in our mouths. A dark cloud hanging over our heads for the rest of the day. I think we can all acknowledge that isn’t good for anyone.
I could recommend a social media break when you’re starting to feel like the interactions you are having are negatively affecting your life, (don’t forget to announce your social media break beforehand!). However, I don’t think that solves the deeper problem. Of course, if you are struggling with social media usage and your mental health, do take a break. It can be very important. But when you are feeling more positive about social media, when you have the strength to help fix the underlying problem, the responsibility lies with us.
Strive to be positive and uplifting
Social media can be a wonderful hive of positivity and support if we work for it. If we commit to being mindful about the types of accounts we follow, selecting accounts that make you happy or are interesting over those that are simply popular and promote toxic behaviours and products, we can make opening those apps an opportunity for growth or community.
We should learn to breathe before we engage in comments section arguments with other people when more often than not, both sides are misunderstanding, and both are needlessly upset and defensive.
We should strive to post and share uplifting, inspiring, and honest content. We’re all adults, we know that what we see online is often edited, filtered, or simply purposefully chosen to portray a certain image.
If you see a flower you like, share it with the world. If the sun is shining or you’re dancing in the rain, put that out there. If you see someone online struggling, share your support, share your experience, even just share a heart emoji. We can argue that it’s all just pixels, that likes shouldn’t be what makes someone feel better, but how long can we ignore that often times, it does. It’s not about getting attention or feeling popular, it’s about feeling supported, less isolated, heard.
There is no easier place to spread positivity, joy, and a sense of community than social media and yet we consistently choose to feed the trolls, stoke the negativity bonfire, and continue to look the other way when others are being abused. Let’s do better. Let’s nourish social media with kindness, support, friendships, connections, advice, and fact-checked information. Nothing will change if we aren’t proactive about it, but it can be done.