Don’t get me wrong: I *do* see the benefits of social media (one of them being my well-paid day job). But it can be a happier place. How? Hear me out.
BEAUTYCALYPSE doesn’t have many social media channels, but I am au courant in regards of trends and fads and challenges that occur across most of them. I do see trends that I’d rather not be seeing and I do have a few suggestions to make the experience more inspiring, more fun, more fruitful and more pleasant. What’s my expertise, other than running BEAUTYCALYPSE? I’m glad you asked: it’s nearly two decades of working with the “new media”, my background as a professional editor and copywriter plus my background in cognition science and linguistics.
In tune with the Ethical Excellence Quest I invite you to be as mindful on social media as you are IRL, whether you’re in it for the fun or professionally curating the social media feed and the comments for your company or brand.
And here’s what I think we’re about to lose and why it’s vital to get these things back on track:
THINGS WE LOST TO THE SOCIAL MEDIA
Number 1: We Are Losing Articulateness
What do I even mean by that?
Social media differ here. While some people are perfecting the art of snark and the art of cracking minute jokes in less than 140 chars over on Twitter, it’s perfectly possible to snot out a bland emoji when sharing a photo on Instagram and still rake in the likes. And while Pinterest is just about the images, on Steller, thoughtful captions can make or break a story. However, comments that sound like bots have left them are on the rise. We tend to choose lazy words (awesome, great, amazing, goals) instead of precise terms and we choose commonplace compliments instead of specific. This bears the danger of making our communication dull and meaningless or simply put, it robs you of a potentially engaging, interesting, fruitful exchange and a deeper emotional connection.
Soul Detox Quick Fix:
If you are about to leave a wildcard comment in the likes of “⭐️Awesome pic, dude!”, pause and think. Does the world need another swappable?
If you want to leave a meaningful compliment, try to find something precise that you honestly want to highlight – “Awesome pic” can then turn into something more interesting, rich, valuable like “The light is amazing in this picture, just as always. I can easily recognise your photos just by the beautiful lighting. Love it!”.
Not much extra effort, but the recipient will absolutely appreciate your words, and the world will be a happier place for a moment.
Number 2: We Are Losing Patience
The world will end if you don’t hit like, reply, comment RIGHT NOW, right? Right? Wrong.
As a linguist, I know from history of language (plus some dabbling in psycholinguistics) that humans are wired to be lazy and inpatient, as a species. Our major inventions were fuelled by our desire to cut it fukken short and get on with the shizzle already. Dammit! That’s just how impatient we are.
Having started my career back in 1999 as a student employee, I saw the same thing happen in offices that is pretty much happening on social media now. Suddenly, people were not just sending you letters or faxes or calling you on the phone – no, they started to shoot out emails that went more and more wrong as time went by. At some point, receiving five emails in a row from a client or a coworker who just forgot this, and that, and this again… was becoming the sad norm. It’s even worse in 2017, where we want our stuff out fast, and we want the result in fast. Studies show we focus less and less and take in information in small bits, jumping from topic to topic. The immediate nature of social media, the one that can be so inspiring, can turn on us and taint our experience with others.
Soul Detox Quick Fix:
Allow for reality checks when you send out questions or assign to dos. It can seem like you’ve sent that text to your friend hours ago, but if you’re honest, it’s probably just 30 minutes. And they’re probably at work and didn’t get the chance to consider going to the pub tonight.
Number 3: We Are Losing Our Sense of Discretion
In Russian, there’s a very apt description of people who live out their reality TV star ambitions on social media: to live with your underpants out. Consider the possibility that not everyone out there has a burning desire to see your figurative underpants (and sometimes literal, hi Instagram’s half-naked “philosophers”!) in the first place. But also, where does it stop?
Social media reward, facilitate our “openness” with likes, comments, shares: humans are wired to love stories about humans. We are seduced to share more and more “shocking” content. But how much openness is healthy for you? The old “strangers on the train” game, the sharing of most intimate secrets with a perfect stranger, is exciting for one reason: it’s you and another person and you’ll never see each other again. The
North Internet, however, remembers.
Soul Detox Quick Fix:
Before you share something personal and maybe daring, ask yourself this question, no matter how private your account settings: “If everyone in the world, including the cute girl/guy next door, grams, my boss, my mother in law were to see this image or bit of information, would it have consequences for me and can I bear them?”
Granted, it’s a long-ish, double-layered question.
But it’s worth every second.
Number 4: We Are Losing Our Sense of Tact – and Respect
What all social media channels have in common are the comments.
And what all comments have in common is the high chance for them to go awfully awry, and I’m not even talking trolls.
One of the rules of the Internet reads “never read the comments” for a reason. But alas, it’s a useless rule – after all, we want to engage with our peers. Here’s way it’s becoming more and more of a minefield though. The problem is that we’ve been caught in the middle of the technological revolution here. We’ve taken in the worst of both worlds: we have embraced the briefness, the snark, the cool factor and the sarcastic “whatever!” allure of the social media – and yet it’s our lizard brain and lizard psyche that get irritated rather sooner than later. And people can get irritated a lot (and yes: even if you do everything right).
While it’s hard to bring up real respect for people you don’t know, or worse, people who are potentially acting too outrageously for you to have genuine respect for them – and I respect that, ha ha –, you can always scratch together a few shards of tact and be gracious. Don’t engage in conversations that lack tact and dignity in a way that supports this very lacking.