The Five Rules of Social Media

Social media is pseudo-social. It is humans through filters of ego or lack thereof attempting to connect with others for self-gain, commiseration, or validation. By remembering that fact and following a few simple rules, your online persona and your human decency will stay intact.

Photo by Rodion Kutsaev on Unsplash

First Rule of Social Media

Don’t take anything personally. Not all posts are for or about you.

It is very difficult not to take words seriously. When reading a negative post on social media it takes a fraction of a second for your emotions to kick in. Just stop for the briefest of seconds to realize what is happening. What triggered your response?

Only you can make you angry. Think about that. Who holds the power over your emotions?

You can’t control other people’s actions; however, you can control your response to what others do. Most posts are not directed to a person. When they are directed to a person, that person should be named. If someone is dealing with a relationship, positively or negatively, by posting indirectly on social media, it is all about that person’s inability to deal with conflict or issues correctly. Unfortunately, social media is a place where passive-aggressive personalities thrive.

Do not take posts personally.

Don’t let your emotions be sucked up in someone else’s passive-aggressive mess and above all never respond without taking a moment to asses the situation. Anger posting can cause many regrets.

Close the app and remove yourself for a minute. Only respond after giving it some thought.

Second Rule of Social Media

If you won’t stand up in church or in front of your Grandma and say it out loud, don’t post it on social media.

Look, just because you can say it or post it does not mean you should. Consider your audience and your reputation. One wrong post can undo years of trust-building. Have some dignity and respect for yourself.

Now the flip side of that is if the profane image or word is the strongest you can think of and the message you want to convey needs a strong catalyst, use it. However, do some research and find a better word or image for the next time. Make it a rare occurrence if you post a swear word or vulgar photo on social media.

Do not disrespect yourself unnecessarily. No humor, anger, or vulgarity is worth your self-respect.

Third Rule of Social Media

Social media is not real life. Look around you, those people you see are real, the world is real, and you are not a meme.

Do not get so absorbed in the world of social media that you ignore the living breathing people in your life. Right now our real-life social structures are fragile. I get it. Social media and online tools are how most of us are connecting with humans outside of our homes right now. Social distancing and quarantine aside, life is better experienced than looked at on a screen.

When you see a meme and think, oh my goodness, that is me. No, it is not. It is a thought that you can relate to, but it is not who you are. You are a human with original thoughts, emotions, and physical presence. You live in a world of unlimited beauty and life.

Leave the apps behind for real interactions and for now, at a safe distance.

Fourth Rule of Social Media

Love does not come from a screen, it comes from real people.

Yes, you got more likes, views, hugs, claps, stars, or comments today! That is great! You may think that people love you. No, they love your words, humor, and ideas.

Do not tie so much of your emotions up in the arbitrary stats of virtual rewards. What do your online “friends” really know about you? They know what you have shown them.

I like to say I am completely transparent. For me what you see is what you get.

Even transparency only goes so far. It is still the public me that you see and not the intimate me my husband and family see. That is where my love lives in that realm of reality and so should yours.

What your online friends like or love is what you post. You are not what you post. See rule number three.

Fifth Rule of social Media

Don’t assume, especially emotions. You can’t read minds.

Don’t try to read feelings into what others post. Maybe they are really angry, maybe they aren’t. Maybe they want to spur an uprising, maybe they don’t. Maybe they are depressed, maybe they just like pictures of rainstorms with serious quotes. Do not assume. Take what you read and see under great scrutiny.

You are not a mind reader.

Even if you think the words portray what the human who posted it is feeling you may still be completely wrong.

When in doubt, ask them what they meant by the post. Do not get upset without clarification. See rule number one.

These five simple rules will keep you from embarrassing yourself with a badly worded reply, keep your emotions balanced while navigating social media and protect your reputation.

Use social media responsibly. It is an amazing tool for promoting your work. However, look for sincere commiseration or validation in the real world.

~Lori O’Gara

Thank you for your time. You can see more of my writing here or sign up for the O’Gara Inner Circle here

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