Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, Tik Tok- it seems like everyone is on these platforms or at least on some of them. These platforms used to be perfect for looking at funny cat videos or checking out your crush, but it seems that nowadays, everyone sees these platforms more as their personal stage to share thoughts and opinions. Don’t get me wrong, this has always been the case from the beginning of Facebook, but there’s been a shift lately.
To be honest, it’s really tempting to scroll through all the posts and find out more about the people you haven’t seen in a while or are living in a different area at the moment, to see what they are up to and what happened in their life since you last saw them. These posts, however, seem to disappear lately. Instead, posts that are not always suitable for a larger crowd, with people blurting out their personal opinion, sharing thoughts and “facts” in ways you would never do in the real world, are taking over social media.
Some time ago, pretty much at the beginning of the Corona crisis, I saw a meme that said, “Corona is in truth an intelligence test” which made me laugh out loud by the time. However, by now I see the truth in this statement when scrolling through my social media accounts. The things people post there range from funny to a bit strange to really stupid. By that I don’t specifically mean the content of the posts, but also the timing and that some people post things without thinking about the implications at all.
Is it really that smart to announce a party on Facebook while the world is in the middle of a pandemic and people are supposed to stay at home? I mean, we all want to go out and party again, enjoying life to its fullest after being stuck at home for such a long time, but announcing a party to a broad public on social media during lockdown is not the smartest thing to do. Also, sharing your thoughts and personal views on the situation is totally understandable and that’s also the reason why social media is so interesting. It allows us to find out more about the people surrounding us. However, disrespecting every rule of civilized conversation and decency is just rude!
When scrolling through social media you will find posts, comments or statements that you would never force upon your friends, but some people have absolutely no objection to do so to strangers on the internet. Scrolling through some of the comments that are currently on social media, I am honestly shocked by the cruelty and hatred that some of these contain. It even seems to get worse day by day since the pandemic holds us in its grip. Of course, there is no evidence that the behaviour on social media is connected to the pandemic, but it’s quite obvious that people are spending more time on these platforms at the moment.
Even though we all would like to ignore it, but the pandemic will continue for some more time and there is nothing to do about it. So, why act like a bull in a china shop when times are already hard and humanity is already suffering? Why not counter fight it by giving each other a hand. We should be kind, take the feelings of other people and the impact our written words have on them into consideration before posting everything that comes to our mind without even taking a deep breath and think about it first.
You can still use social media, share your thoughts there, and make a positive impact on people by your input, which is especially important during hard times such as the ongoing pandemic. There are some easy rules that will help you be a kind digital citizen:
• Manage the content you post! This simply means that you should be mindful of issues that could be seen as negative or offensive. Focus on content that is going to entertain, educate or assist the audience in a way that will not damage your reputation. Everything you post, share or comment reflects back on you. Therefore, you are what you share.
• Good manners equals good reputation! You should communicate online like you would in the real world, using manners, saying “please” and “thank you” to people. You should always remember that people do business with and refer business to people they know, like and trust. Therefore, authenticity, transparency, honesty and well manners should always be there when you interact with people online and in the real world.
• Always ask permission! If you would like to tag people in photos of last nights’ clubbing (highly unlikely, since we are in lockdown, but nevertheless), ask them if it is ok to post the pic and tag them.
• Private life vs job and representation! Keep in mind that posting from your private account can also reflect on your professional life and might influence the way colleagues or future employers will see you when looking at your account. It would therefore be good to keep in mind how your actions on social media reflect on your representation.
• Never forget old fashioned social skills! Social media is all about likes, comments and shares, but ultimately it is about building a connection. No matter how great you are at social networking, it’s about building relationships using good old fashioned social skills in the end.
• Be a good digital citizen! Even though it might not seem like it at first glance, the online world is similar to the real world when it comes to citizenship and connecting with others through self-expression. Although we are at the same time receivers of such expressions that come in the form of trolling, bullying, conflict, misunderstanding and opposing views, being a good digital citizen means having a courteous and respectful attitude and behaviour online.
These tips might look like a lot, but in the end it really comes down to the image you show the world through your actions on social media. You should think about how you would like the world to perceive you and if you would like to be seen as a nice, understanding, kind person or as someone who is spreading negativity or risking peoples’ (mental) health by your posts and actions on social media.
So, just lean back, take a deep breath and think about your post from the perspective of a stranger who reads your content on social media before posting. Would you like to read it and how would you think about the person after reading what they just posted?
Miriam Bleck gives free reign to her love of writing in the DIT press office. You will most likely meet her at the European Campus in Pfarrkirchen or at her favorite Italian bar. When she is not busy with cooking or eating, she writes about current issues, personal experiences and everything else that comes to her mind.