How to make social media a peaceful experience and not an aggrevating time suck.
Social media is full of people. People with different agendas, different goals, different platforms and different ways of communicating different ideas. Regardless of your personal views, you can easily find a bunch of stop to be REALLY irritated with. You can, if you choose, spend all day commenting on shit that makes you hopping mad. Even if you arent seeking out these anger inducing pages, sometimes you stumble upon them.
I once followed a page called something like Beauty of the world (it wasnt really that, Im not looking to slander anyone) that I found because it posted photos of these majestic castles and landscapes that one of my friends had liked and so I liked the majestic castles and images. One day the person behind the page started posting body-shaming stuff. Like photos of women with phrases on it about how disgusting different body types are. This was genuinely not what I thought the page was about.
My trigger response was to comment. But then I looked at the comments are there were a lot of people already upset about this. Some of them were incredibly mean. While I totally understand fighting fire with fire and that the images really upset people, Im definitely more into thoughtful dialogue, even when faced with something that feels thoughtless. So I unliked the page and moved on.
There have been many times Ive wanted to go through my friends list and delete half the people. Not because I didnt like them. But because in those moments I felt really alone, and wondered to myself how I could possibly have so many friends and feel so alone. Theres a lot of negative emotion you can draw from social media. Theres the feelings you get from seeing how together everyone else seems, while you are lying under a pile of laundry wondering how you will possibly do all the logistical things it takes to manage your life, facebook offers the highlight reel of others lives. Your life = laundry and overwhelmed. Everyone elses life = fabulous vacations, undying support from perfect spouses and children who take amazing family photos. When if you really sit down to think about it, most of us find ourselves having the lying under a pile of (whatever the stressor-life-stuff it is) we just dont advertise this. Its part of why I try to be honest without over-sharing details involving others, about the down sides of my life. I think a lot of our not measuring up feelings come from this misguided idea that no one else knows what its like to feel lost, overwhelmed and deal with our particular set of difficulties. But we are much the same. I digress
THE GOOD NEWS
Your personal social media world is entirely in your control. Instead of deleting everyone or taking long hiatuses I have made rules for myself. Im not suggesting that these rules should be yours. But perhaps in sharing mine, you might find some parts that sound awesome for you. I never profess to have all the answers. But when I figure out a way to navigate negative parts of my life that bring me peace, I like to share that in hopes it may help someone else.
ERINS PERSONAL RULES FOR A PEACEFUL SOCIAL MEDIA EXPERIENCE
- EDIT YOUR LIKES. I unlike pages all the time. Sometimes its like the experience I mentioned above, where I thought a page was about one thing and then it came out of left field with something Im really against. Rather than go crazy telling the person behind the post about what a jerk they are, it feels nice to just send it back. Like throwing back a shoe when youre fishing. This isnt what I want so I send it back.
- EDIT YOUR FAMILY AND FRIENDS. We all have people in our lives that are the Negative Nancys. Sometimes these people are just in the dumps for awhile. Sometimes they are always in the dumps. In my life, some of these people are just constantly writing posts about their ex being a real asshole or the million other ways strangers upset them all day. Or politics. Ugh. I have strong views (which I notably do not express here) on politics. My friends who have different view but are always posting about how anyone who thinks differently is the dumbest person alive, really get to me. I dont really have a criteria for this, but when someone continuously posts things that make me feel icky for any reason, I hide them. You do this simply by clicking the little arrow lookin thing at the top of the post and click hide. From there facebook gives you the option of hiding everything from that person or just the one post. The beauty of this is that they wont ever know if you hid them. They just wont show up in your feed anymore.
- DONT READ THE COMMENTS. This is a personal choice, for certain. When I follow a page that has a bajillion likes and an obvious platform, even when they post something that makes me REALLY happy and fist-pumpy I know for certain that if I scroll through the comments my happy moment will be over. Big pages have trolls. People moderate and deal with that all different kinds of ways. My personal policy has had to change with my page growth and activity. But even the best moderators sometimes cant keep up with the nasty, awful things people chose to comment. For me? If I want to comment I comment on the original post, positively, and move on. Ive found even the most awesome come-back results in sparring with strangers in a way that is NOT fun. Facebook drama? No thank you.
- REGULATE NEWSFEED FLOODERS. There are things to know about this. First, at the top of your timeline you can choose if you see all posts as they happen (so if Aunt Shirley just posted a recipe you will see it when she posts it) or (the default setting) see most popular posts. In see most popular posts you will probably not see Aunt Shirleys posts at all (unless shes a super popular lady) but rather status updates and page posts that have gotten a lot of feedback. The more likes and comments a post gets the more likely it is (with this default setting) to be in your newsfeed. Another reason some pages and people pop up on your timeline more is because YOU like or comment on their posts recently or a lot. So what to do when you like something, but you are just seeing too much of them? Well first of all, realize that the amount of flooding your timeline that a person or page does is not in their control. How many pages you follow/friends you have/how YOUVE interacted are all a part of the weird algorithm that decides what you see. So you can change your settings to most recent on the top of your timeline. And THEN you can go to the person or page and click on (friends if its a person and like if its a page) and chose how much you see of them. When you click on friends or like (and the chose option settings) you have the option to see all updates see most updates or see only important updates. This way you can still see the best ofs without seeing ALL the things. Flooding? Nah, set up a dam.
- WALK AWAY FROM ARGUMENTS. I know this is hard. Whether its a stranger, a friend of a friend on a status update or crazy Uncle Albert whos always damning everyone to hell its not hard to find yourself in an argument on facebook. EVEN when you were really not meaning to be. Ive found that my best, most articulate and full of awesome responses to arguments on facebook have always just created more arguing. I dont think Ive ever changed a mind this way. Its never made me feel better. So I walk away, unfollow the comment thread (another option available after you comment on a status) and (a theme here?) MOVE ON. Moving on is sometimes the most powerful thing you can do for yourself.
- I DONT TWEET. Lots of people love twitter. And I may in the future find myself among them. But twitter, youtube and all the social media outlets where there is literally zero reason to be an actual person (you can be jerkfacemcgee141 and most folks are) has a lot more trolls. Trolls being people who seriously sit online trying to aggravate other people all day long. Im not against twitter. But I personally have found it to be an outlet that I dont like. So I just dont participate. Plus (lets be real) 140 characters just isnt enough for this wordy broad.
- ELIMINATE STRESSORS BY ELIMINATING THEM, NOT ENGAGING THEM. Thats it. If someone or a page only rubs you the wrong way. Get rid of it. Unlike. Unfriend. Its easy to hide and not see it anymore, but if you really dont need this person or thing in your life for any reason? Get rid of it. Its easy. And its real peaceful.
- FIND PAGES THAT MAKE YOU HAPPY. One day I literally spent a half hour finding pages that post photos of cute animals and shit that makes me happy. Now when I log on facebook its normal to see what my friends are doing and then BOOM! Cute animal! Cute animal reading a book! Cute animal in a cute animal outfit! You dont have to be into cute animals to do the same. There is SO MUCH AWESOME on social media. You just have to find what you like and leave the rest for the folks who like that.
- FAVORITE PEOPLE. I found that even when I change my timeline to most recent some of my favorite people were not showing up in my newsfeed. Like, ever. I didnt want to miss their photos of their babies and any ol thing that they had to say. So facebook allows you to favorite as many people as you want by clicking on friends and then checking close friends. And now you wont miss a thing
- DONT FREAK OUT, JUST EDIT OVER TIME. This is a lot to do. Geebus. So I just do it as it comes up. If something is annoying I hide them, if a page irritates me I unlike it or edit how much I see of it if I like some things about it. When I see a friend in my newsfeed I want to see more of, I make them a favorite. Over time Ive found that my social media experience can be and has become really positive. I can see the people and things that I love, I only follow one page for regular news as too many bugs me out, I see kitties and fitness and shit I like.
Bottom line: social media isnt evil and it isnt out to piss you off. Its one way in your whole big life that you have ALL the control. You can create a happy little world that challenges your beliefs, or is uplifting , or is just about catching up with friends. You can literally ONLY see Aunt Shirleys recipes if that all you want to see. It doesnt have to be annoying, dramatic or full of stuff you dont like. EDIT. Let it be something you look forward to doing instead of something that reminds you of everything you hate in the world. And allow yourself to grow and change, which sometimes means something that used to serve you no longer does and honey, move on.