Being Intentional with Social Media
I’ve always had somewhat of a paradoxical relationship with social media. I think it is fascinating to consider the ways it has changed the way we interact and connect with one another. A few years ago, I even wrote a post called Relationships in the Digital Age reflecting on how technology has helped and hindered our relationships — and it turns out that the research shows it is a little bit of both! Like most things, it just depends on how we use it. While it can be easy to find faults, social media not only serves as a valuable way to connect, especially when we cannot physically be together, but it also serves as a form of entertainment and education!
This is excellent news if you’re like me and you’ve found yourself turning to social media now more than ever. Social networking sites and apps have been an incredible tool to stay in touch with people, see what is going on around the world, and, quite frankly, to pass some time. Whether it be through virtual concerts, live streams, fundraisers, or even trends –think back to bread making! Social media connects people and ideas. However, to get the most out of our social media usage, we need to be intentional.
In the past few months, I have tried to change some of my online habits for the better. For starters, I have tried to stop consuming mindless information by making some changes to my network. I started following people and accounts that bring me joy. One of my personal favorites is Upworthy, an account dedicated to sharing positive stories–something that has been so important during these difficult times. I’ve also started engaging more with leaders and community activists that inspire me. By doing so, I regularly see content that challenges me to slow down, reflect on my values, and think from new perspectives. I’ve even used platforms as a way to network and engage with various organizations. Thanks to their social media content, I have been able to join virtual events that have encouraged me to build my capacity as a leader and take action around some of the most pressing issues in our society.
Whether you connect through Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, or even LinkedIn and podcasts, social media provides an incredible avenue to learn. This form of self-directed learning comes with great responsibility, though. People can curate, persuade, and influence people in entirely new ways because of social media. Because of this, as consumers of this media, we need to approach content (even content that we agree with) through a critical thinking lens. We must continually be mindful of the information we see and seek and question the biases, influences, and perspectives that are at play. This can help us to determine
On social media, it can be effortless to ‘unfriend,’ ‘unfollow,’ or remove people who disagree with you; however, I would caution you against doing so. Certainly, boundaries are important, but if you only engage with people who think or believe like you, groupthink can quickly turn very dangerous. As Jeremy Smith says in the article Five Ways to Build Caring Community on Social Media, “It’s a hard truth: Imbalance in your social media feeds doesn’t reflect media bias. It reflects your bias.” As leaders, we must be skeptical of what we read and see and be skeptical of ourselves! Cultivating a diverse network and engaging with people who do not look like you, think like you, or live like you, can be a great way to do so.
Another great technique is to practice self-awareness! Not only question those you surround yourself with but question your relationship with social media. I have been trying to ask myself questions such as: Why do I want to watch this? How does it make me feel? Do I feel inspired by this content? Taking some time to check-in with ourselves is crucial, and do not be afraid to set limits when needed.
We can either let social media stress us out, or we can use it as a tool for joy, entertainment, and inspiration! Ultimately, your social media is your platform. It is your way to connect and share what you want to share with the world. So, take advantage of the endless opportunities with intentionality and responsibility.
*Meet the Author*
Caroline has been with Leadership Inspirations for 3 years. She is currently pursuing a Masters in Leadership Development and holds B.A’s in Psychology and Integrated Educational Studies.
Favorite Quote: “You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make” – Jane Goodall
Fun Facts: 1) I’m from Seattle 2) I LOVE Golden Retrievers 3) I have celebrated Holi in India