Hey there, thanks for stopping by. It’s Mic Johnson here, and I wanted to share some thoughts on how I’ve been using social media for years.
There’s been a lot of talk for years (and especially recently) about the “dangers” of social media and what these tools are doing to people and to the societies of countries across the world.
Is it a debate/discussion worth having? Absolutely.
Does it matter if we’re talking about how children/teens use these tools vs. adults? Absolutely.
Can these tools be used to manipulate people in negative ways? Absolutely.
Are there real concerns and issues that need to be addressed? Absolutely.
Should we all be smarter users/consumers of social media? Absolutely.
Is there a lot of “clickbait” and “fear mongering” going on around social media? Absolutely.
My experience on the whole with social media has been overwhelmingly positive over the nearly 10 years I’ve been using tools like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram. Those are the ones I use the most.
So when I see all of these headlines about social media ruining peoples’ lives, etc., I wonder why my experience has been the exact opposite. I don’t have some social media success secret sauce (say that five times fast), but if my experience has been overwhelmingly positive, then maybe I can help people by sharing how I’ve used these tools for years.
Let me repeat that. I use social media daily. I don’t let IT use ME.
I dip my toes into the waters of social media networks a few times every day.
I don’t spend hours staring at my feeds and dreaming of a better life. I pop in, take a look around, see what there is to see, and I pop out.
I use Facebook regularly. I’m not alone. As of the fourth quarter of 2017, Facebook had 2.2 BILLION active monthly users.
And yes, I’m acutely aware that Facebook has done some bad things (Mark Zuckerberg will be or has already spoken to Congress by the time you’ll read this.) that I definitely don’t approve of based on what I know so far. And yes, I plan to look into this situation further as more information comes out.
But I have to be honest. Most of my experiences with the network to this point have been positive. And part of that is because of how I choose to live my life…for me, I’m PRO-LIVE-MY-LIFE vs PRO-LIVE-IN-FEAR-EVERY DAY.
90%-95% of what I post on Facebook is positive or has positive intentions. Let me be clear. I’m not doing it for the LIKEs and comments. I’m doing it because maybe it will HELP people…try a new restaurant, help them make a decision in their life, give them a dose of perspective just at the right time, etc.
And, for the record, I’ve heard from countless people that those things have happened because of what I’ve posted. Let me say this again. This isn’t for my ego. This is because it HELPS people. That’s my motivation for the majority of what I post. In fact, that’s my motivation for just about everything I do in life.
I use it to see what people in my business network are up to. I scan my home feed. I’ll read a few posts. I might comment or engage with something that interests me. If there’s an article that I see that can educate me about something I’m interested in, I read it. And I’ll chat with a few people in my network from time to time. It’s a business tool and that’s how I use it.
I use Twitter predominantly for following sports teams I care about and, yes, I’m completely aware that I can sometimes be irrational about those teams and their coaching staffs. I enjoy seeing what other people are saying or engaging with people to discuss their viewpoints. I also use Twitter to get a lot of the “daily headlines” of what’s going on in the world. And finally, I’ve come across a lot of interesting people on Twitter, so I follow them to learn more. Maybe they can help me…maybe I can help them.
I don’t use Instagram as much as the other tools above, but I do dip my toes in a few times a week and quickly scroll through pictures. I like the visual nature of Instagram, but I’m a little turned off by the “perfectionism” with which some of the images are manufactured. But hey, to each their own. There’s a lot of cool pictures out there. And a lot of cool people out there.
Never forget that. It’s all in how you use the tools.
I’ve had someone battling cancer message me saying that a post I shared really helped her. I got tickets to the Final Four in San Antonio through a Facebook friend. My wife and I have become very good friends with a couple and the entire relationship started on Facebook (they’ve also become clients).
I’ve sent countless people to Bob Wasabi Kitchen for sushi, so they get an experience of the best sushi in KC and I’m helping a small local business that does it right. I’ve had countless situations where I’ve run into people who I haven’t seen in awhile and it enhances the in-person meeting because we’ve been following each other’s journeys through social media.
The list goes on and on…
Recently I saw one of my Facebook friends (and I’ve heard this argument from other people as well) ay that people only post positive stuff on Facebook. First of all, it’s funny that people are complaining about people posting positive stuff. What are we, anti-positive now?
But, again, I’ve seen plenty of people post things about difficult situations in their lives. I recently posted about my grandma passing away and I got a flood of support from people in my network. That feels good. And that’s been my experience over the years…if you share your bad times or difficult times, people will reach out to you to help or encourage you.
If you want to live an authentic life, then being vulnerable is part of the deal, in good times…and in bad.
Irrational fear is a part of our daily lives. There’s a lot of fear-mongering going on in articles shared on social networks. Be smart about what you read/share. Do your homework. Is the story true or is it clickbait?
Be a better consumer of what shows up in your feed. And be mindful of anyone or anything who is trying to manipulate you using fear. I’m not saying that some of the fear isn’t natural or even justified, but a lot of it isn’t.
I do it all the time on every social network I use (though it hasn’t come up much on Instagram). As soon as I realize there’s an ad in my feed, I quickly move past it or block/hide it. I rarely, if ever, click on any ads or play games (on Facebook). You shouldn’t either.
Report/block people who are abusive, use hateful language to you/others, or who are predominantly negative. Again, I do this all the time. It only takes a few seconds and it cleans my feed of counter-productive people.
If you want to take a break from social media, go for it. When you do, you don’t have to tell everyone you’re doing it. Your friends will be fine. And the social networks will be fine. We’ll be here if you decide to come back and join the fun.
If you enjoy 90-95% of what you see from certain friends/connections on any social network, don’t unfriend or block them because they post a few things about topics you disagree with. Maybe you “snooze” them for 30 days (Yes, you can do that on Facebook.)
Last time I checked, we’re adults. There’s a reason the saying “Agree to disagree” has been around for decades. We don’t have to agree 100% with everything our friends or families believe/share.
If you’re really bothered by it and the relationship is a significant one for you, here’s an old-school way to deal with it…HAVE A CONVERSATION with them in person or on the phone. If it’s someone you can’t do that with, then take it offline and see if you can find some common ground. If you don’t want to take the time to do that, then agree to disagree and focus on the positive content they share.
If seeing someone enjoy/share their life on social media makes you feel worse about yourself, then you should talk to someone about it…that person, a friend, a therapist, whomever.
The issue very well may be less about that person and more about what’s going on in your life. Look, we all have baggage, and that baggage impacts the way we experience things in our life. The happiest people are intentional about working through their baggage.
Social media isn’t the reason for your baggage, though it very well may be a magnifying glass. If that’s the case, talk to someone about it, meditate, ask for help, etc.
In the end, you need to do what works best for you so that you can live as happy and productive life as possible. If social media enhances your life as it has mine, then keep using it. If it doesn’t bring positive energy into your life, then maybe it’s time to evaluate how you use it.
Thanks for taking the time to read this post. I hope it helps you in some small…or big…way. What other ways do you use social media that have been beneficial? Share your comments below.