Sunday, September 24, 2017

How Much is Too Much on Social Media?

From lunches to vacations, everyone seems perpetually compelled to share every mundane detail of their lives on social media. I used to be one of those who clog up my friends' timeline gushing about my life. Until I realized how I managed to craft an online persona. We use social media to put an ideal version of ourselves while minimizing the negatives. I wouldn't post my weekend nights alone watching Netflix or whenever I'm feeling emotional. There's a place for that, it's called Twitter. (No, really. Hahaha!) Well, I did once out of anger but later regretted it. People only get to see my highlight reels, what goes down behind is a whole different story. I don't want to get chewed up by others for pointing out my privileges because who am I to call out people's behavior online? But here's where the problem lies within, where do we draw the line between sharing and oversharing?

Social sharing has its acceptable limits. I know the excitement of wanting to immediately post that far-flung destinations or achieving the job promotion you've been dreaming of. I feel the same way about my workouts and vegan foods. You easily get carried away of the things you've worked hard for or passionate about. Nothing wrong with that, it's cool. Whatever makes you happy, right? But, why are we really posting these photos and updates? What impact does social media contribute in our lives? What are we trying to prove? To update our family and friends? To inspire? To provoke envy? For validation? For people to live vicariously through us? While it is true that you can't control people's emotional and psychological issues, you should be aware of the unhealthy perception occurring in today's digital world. What we share on social media affects how other people see us. For every updates, you can build strong connections. But, there will always be a small percentage who thinks otherwise. Sometimes it's not always a positive experience. You will soak up criticism like a sponge — either they're trolls or you're completely insufferable to be hated on. In addition, recent studies reveal that heavy use of social media is linked to depression. The amount of time people spend online hurts more than it helps. Admit it or not, there are times you feel a stab of jealousy over vacation photos popping up on Facebook while you're stuck at work without any days off. We start comparing ourselves to others and get irritated of our own misfortunes. Some would impose a social media detox to avoid feeling inadequate about their own lives and achievements. If your emotions go beyond a small pang, it's probably time to give social media a break.

Do you constantly glorify your relationship and significant other? Are you blowing your own trumpet to boast your good fortunes? Are you a non-conformist for steering away from the mainstream to stand out from the pack? Do you often post countdown about your upcoming trips? Do you use social media to brag about wealth and materialistic items?

In some cases, the air of desperation on social media is evident by gaining attention and fishing for compliments. This goes on top of my social media netiquette: Don't be vague! I'm so sick of the cryptic eye roll-inducing status. If you don't intend to give out the whole story, don't bother posting it. For travel photos, my only pet peeve is when someone posts too many of the same thing. Choose your best shots with interesting context to add to bring out your personality. I really like seeing vacation pictures because it reignites my wanderlust spirit whenever I'm about to live like a hermit. I guess the only backlash would be the deliberate attempt to humblebrag. People could see right through the fakery and self-conceited ones. Basically, we might all be hypocrites. We share our own travels but sometimes, we don't want to bother looking at others. I don't want to sound contradicting since I maintain this blog and a public Instagram profile. No matter what angle you look into it, I have an online persona. My only goal is to align my "real" self with my "ideal" self in terms of writing and creativity. I also had a rude awakening about the wrongness of focusing more on Instagrammability than experience. It's good to be reminded to tone it down a bit, not waste too much time on the aesthetics and savor the moment. I learned to value my privacy by sending photos to our family/friends group chat instead of the news feed. It's my choice which part of my life I should pour out in the open. Reality check? Social media is diminishing the basic trait that makes us human — empathy. I still try to be sensitive about other people's feelings. Oh funny story, I have a friend who doesn't believe I got engaged because I didn't mention it online. See the world we live in? Facebook it or it didn't happen!

Let's try to be mindful of what we share online. If you think you're guilty of oversharing, take a pause and reflect before blaming anyone for unfriending you. Being on social media is like having a freedom of speech, you can post whatever you want but it doesn't mean everyone has the obligation to hang around, read or "like" it. When used correctly, social media can far outweigh its curses. Practice the power of storytelling for good, raise awareness and inspire others as long as you keep the tone positive. When you're truly genuine, people would want to connect with you.


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