Meme, myself and I: Here's how to get ahead in the social media game
When I started writing this piece, I thought maybe I’d give you my “tips and tricks” to improving your social media game. Upping your likes and growing your followers is all about using the right hashtags and riding the algorithm. But then I thought about it. What does it really mean to be “better on social media”? Maybe it’s not about the best things to do, maybe it’s just about being a better you.
Honestly, have you ever wondered what the purpose of social media is and why it was created at all? I mean we spend almost 24 hours a week absorbed by this virtual universe and I worry that we’re morphing into a version of ourselves that we would never be in “real life”.
I mean what is social media? It is a tool to amplify your ability to connect with people on a scale that is not otherwise humanly possible. I can have 5,000 friends on Facebook and connect with them at different times on different things, but I could never keep that number up in real life. Social media was meant to be my free ride around the world. It was meant to fulfill my childhood ambition of meeting everyone on the planet! So how did it become such a lonely place?
There’s a quote from a movie called Shall We Dance - average movie but epic quote.
It says “There are 6 billion (well technically now 7!) people on the planet, what does one life really mean? In marriage or friendship, you’re saying I’m going to be there for the good, the bad, the mundane, your life will not go unnoticed because I will notice it, your life will not go unwitnessed because I will be your witness.”
And what else is social media but a witness? A like, a share, a double tap on Instagram and it’s somebody acknowledging your existence, being your witness...
But have you ever wondered what you’re making them witness to?
I started my social media journey over a decade ago, and if I knew then, what I know now, I would probably have thought very differently about what I posted. So here it is, my guide to being better on social media. It may not come naturally (understandably so), since we’ve become accustomed to having our guard up and assuming the worst. I blame that partly on the tendency for emotions being “lost in translation” on text. I mean one change in punctuation or an ill-timed emoji can change everything, right?
I saw this quote the other day and it really struck a chord… “Relationships are harder now because conversations become texting, arguments become phone calls and feelings become status updates.” (I’d go as far as to say arguments are now typically flame wars in the comments section!)
I was replying to a really mean comment the other day and I asked genuinely, “Why did you need to be so mean about it?” and the response I got was, “What do you expect, this is the Internet” and that’s when it hit me. We need to unlearn this version of the Internet, where we have lost all empathy and kindness. We must reboot.
Don’t get me wrong, I love social media, I really do. I just realized maybe it’s time to do it a little differently.
We all think of ourselves as “good people”, but does your social media reflect that for you? Have all the comments you’ve made on social media indicate that? Or are you an accidental troll sometimes?
I’m as guilty as the next person of getting this wrong by the way.
When I started my “Bollywood blog” I realised as I started going to events, I would feel wary of running into certain celebrities because of what we had written. And that’s when it dawned on me, that the virtual world had given me this “free pass” to behave in a way I would never have done in real life. I was suddenly hurting people I didn’t even know for a few clicks. Trying to raise my social clout with the number of followers or likes I had... Who had I become? And why? Was it just greed for social currency?
So, I asked myself this question. If there were no likes and a public display of my followers, would I still use social media the same way? And what does that say about me?
We really are in the Matrix in a sense. The future we keep talking about is now. We’re here. We’re in it. Maybe we just don’t know how to live there yet.
But what if I told you that the new currency of the Internet is positivity, how much are you worth? The good news is it’s not too late to change your social media strategy. Here are a few simple rules to follow and I promise you will find what you put out into the virtual universe will come back at you 10-fold.
- Don’t post anything about someone you wouldn’t say to their face.
- Stop treating social media as a dumping ground for your negative emotions.
- Spark joy with what you post; share happy videos, pictures and quotes that will spread love and positivity.
- Use the like button more often; appreciate more than you criticize.
- Stop judging and comparing, it’s only going to make you bitter and unhappy. (Remember everyone’s Instagram feed is simply a curation of their best moments, it isn’t a complete reflection of their lives.)
- Use social media to connect with family and friends separated by distance or busy schedules, and not to disrupt these very relationships.
- Create posts that you think will benefit people and use social media to begin conversations on topics that really matter to you.
- Un-friend or hide posts from people who routinely write about the bad stuff; the constant negativity will only drag you down.
- Boost your own social media with happiness and witness how contagious it is.
- And most important of all, remember that followers are people too.
When people choose to follow you, they are choosing to witness your lives, experience your thoughts and are being affected by what you post. What are you making them feel? I believe we would care more if we stop seeing the numbers and see the people instead. If you swapped virtual reality with “real” reality what kind of a person would you be? Would you really behave the same way? What would you change?
Your social media is a digital representation of who you are and it’s leaving an everlasting imprint. Make it a good one. Try it. Give someone a compliment and see what happens. They feel good, you feel good, everybody wins!
Start today, start now, take out your phones and put some love into the universe.
If you want to use a filter - filter out the negativity! When you declutter your social media, you will declutter your mind, when you surround yourself with endless optimism you will attract positivity - if we all make our mission the pursuit of happiness, we won’t have time for trolls or to become them. If there is one thing I want you to take away from this piece it is this: “If you don't like what's on social media today, I challenge you to change what you put on it. It's time to take charge of your social media legacy.”
(Picture credits: Shutterstock)