Last Saturday I had the privilege of being a guest on Woman Talk Live, a radio program on WCBM talk radio 680. The topic was the lonely side of social media. It was a great opportunity to reflect on how women experience community and, conversely, isolation through social media.
The applications expand to men and women, as the program evaluated the evolution of social media and the emotional effects that arise for digital natives. Here are a few thoughts that came out of that conversation. To hear the program, click here: http://www.wcbmpodcast.com/
Social media often encourages more isolation than community as people craft carefully edited versions of themselves to post on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Others’ crafted images become the backdrop for our failures, as we end up comparing our every day experiences against the successes of our peers. This breeds insecurity. When people do post unedited versions of themselves, it often leads to judgement or scrutiny. These feelings of judgement, insecurity, and failure create barriers to authentic connection with others.
Rather than responding with this kind of insecurity or judgement, we would do well to consider our own authentic image-building. What does it look like for me to be authentic in appropriate ways in these different communities? Social media is a wonderful context for identity development. It quickly becomes a litmus test for how comfortable we are with ourselves and with the way others perceive us. Consider what it would look like to put a genuine, balanced representation of yourself on Facebook. What would feel risky about that? How would you navigate those risks in order to be consistent?
Along with authenticity, in order to create a social media community we want to learn to encourage one another rather than competing. How often do we respond to valuable quotes, important updates, or new pictures? Some people do it masterfully and are really encouraging. I know that I’m not nearly as vocal as I should be when I see something that I appreciate or enjoy.
As we begin to be intentional about our social media usage, we can be inspired by the power of digital community. Social media offers connections that are profound and our influence can extend far beyond what we may ever know. It’s exciting to consider the possibilities inherent in this type of community, and when it’s used well, it can be a powerful and effective agent of change.
To hear the radio program, click here: http://www.wcbmpodcast.com/