Social Media. It has a bit of a stigma attached to it these days, with good reason. A few things we all think of when social media is mentioned are: funny memes, cat videos, addiction, bullying, and gossip. Is that all social media has to offer? Is it only beneficial for the shallow, superficial needs that we all desire to fulfill? I don't think so. I'm sure we can all attest to the fact that social media has brought us joy in different areas of our life. It's a wonderful place to vent, share memories, and to reconnect.
1. It's okay to be happy.
I struggle with this regularly – spreading joy when everyone around me seems to be angry, sad, or having a bad day. It makes me feel guilty to smile when others are sad. Should I share my good news when my friend just got her heart broken? I'm not one to boast or brag. In fact, I completely despise that. There are sometimes that I am just so excited that I feel like I might burst if I don't share the news. Social media has taught me that it's okay to be happy. In fact, it's encouraged. Let's be real – happiness in contagious. Just like anger and negativity are contagious. I don't share every bad moment of my life. I share my happy times because I want to look back on these moments and smile. I want my Facebook friends to feel joyful and to find the joy in their lives. So, my friends, it's okay to be happy when others are down. Just like it's okay to be sad, when others are happy. It's okay to be you!
2. Choose your battles wisely.
I think this is my number one takeaway from social media. I see way too many friends and relatives end relationships because of a stupid comment on Facebook. I learned a long time ago to bite my tongue. If I don't like something I see, I keep scrolling. I might privately vent to a friend about an offensive post, but that's it. Arguing on social media is a lose-lose. Not only are you making a scene on a public forum, you're setting yourself up for failure. It's very rare to have a healthy debate online. You have to be amongst very respected and intelligent friends for you to accomplish anything. Social media taught me to choose my battles wisely. I don't post offensive, one-sided, close-minded things.
3. Online friends are just as valuable as your “real life” friends.
I have online friends that I've known since Myspace! These aren't fake friends. They are real, genuine friendships. We truly care for one another. I can't remember how I met these friends from across the web, but I remember our conversations. In fact, many of my closest friends I've met online. Some friends I've met in person, some I talk to online every single day. How much you physically hang out with someone, doesn't determine the value of a friendship – That's what social media taught me.
4. There's an undeniable kindness in strangers.
Social media has taught me about the kindness in strangers. I've witnessed and experienced a beautiful kindness that this world seems to be lacking sometimes. There are strangers who will let you vent to them about anything and everything, because they want to care. It's sad and kind of relieving to see how much more caring a stranger is than someone that you actually know. We underestimate the pure goodness in this world.
5. I'm not the only one.
We are all one species. We have hearts and souls and words sometimes hurt. We all have struggles and demons and pain that we think nobody can understand. But, someone can understand it. Social media taught me that I'm not the only one. There are things I've been through that made me feel so alone. In my time on social media (and on my blog) I've found unity and strength in knowing that I'm not the only one.
6. We're very judgmental.
Let's face it – we all are very judgmental. We scroll down our feed and judge the way someone dishes their dirty laundry on Facebook “They must have some serious issues. TMI”. We judge our friends whose lives seem to be perfect “Oh, something terrible must be going on behind the scenes”. We judge a woman by the tight clothes she's wearing, by the cleavage she's showing. We judge men by their sagging pants, by their colorful tattoos. Why can't we judge people by their heart? I'm much more accepting of that. I'll be honest, I judge my social media friends by the things they comment on celebrity's posts or on a meme. I've seen people that I thought were really sweet and friendly, bash someone in the comments section. It's embarrassing. This brings me to the next lesson that social media taught me.
7. Nothing is private.
Nothing. If you think it is, well, it isn't. Don't think that you can go around dissing people in the comments section or spewing hate without at least one person you know seeing it. Private messages? Nah. Not private. Everything is stored on these platforms, even if you delete it. Everything. Plus, there's a little thing called screenshots. Trust me, we all take them. If someone tells me something crazy through chat or posts something out of character on Facebook, I screenshot it just in case I need to refer to it later. No, not blackmail. I snap a screenshot just in case I'm crazy. Oh, and if you think you can bash the job that you hate so much, good luck keeping it! Plenty have lost their jobs due to social media rants.
8. FOMO is a real (sad) thing.
FOMO = Fear Of Missing Out. It sounds crazy. Actually, it is pretty crazy. Social media has taught us to not appreciate what we have now. It's taught us to always wish we were doing something else. It's taught us to be jealous about what others are doing, instead of being happy and excited for them. It's like we don't appreciate anything anymore. We want to be everywhere all at once and when we get there – we are wishing we are somewhere else. FOMO is a real thing and sometimes, I am guilty as charged. Facebook isn't always great. This is one of the most embarrassing things social media has taught me. I'm hoping to change the feeling of FOMO very soon.
9. We're all humans with feelings and emotions.
The overall lesson that social media taught me was that we're all human. We should always treat one another with compassion, respect, and love. We should help one another, just like we'd help a stray dog. We see someone on Facebook crying out from help and we keep scrolling. It's so easy to disconnect and pretend like it didn't happen. Sadly, I still see the cruel side of the internet every once in awhile. I get offensive and hateful comments on some of my posts. I'm an empathetic creature, so it bothers me. I can't help it. I choose to delete the comments and move on. I don't entertain these type of people. Deep down, I know what's right and what's wrong. I know that they are probably very unhappy with themselves, so they project it by trolling the internet. I don't say anything that I will rethink later. I always regret it when I lose my temper. I always feel guilty later (even if needed to be said). So, I keep comments to myself on social media. If I don't have something nice to say, I don't say anything at all. We're all humans with feelings and emotions. That's a lesson that we all need to learn.