It's no secret that Generation-Y is the champion of social media. We are firm Facebook friends, Instagram aficionados and resolutely Team Twitter, but how savvy are we when it comes to self-preservation?
We use social media to organize events, share news items and watch hilarious videos. We trust the Internet with our lives.
Having said that, we also find out things we'd rather not know, see photographs that hurt our feelings and get ripped to pieces by trolls, all because of social media.
Are we putting too much faith in something that can be as harmful as it is helpful? How can we make social media work for us without getting hurt?
Don't Facebook Stalk
Every time we Facebook stalk someone, we find out things we don't want to know. Facebook stalking is how we discover pictures of our younger siblings getting drunk, or our ex smooching a new squeeze (FYI, you are WAY hotter than she is).
Why is Facebook stalking is so appealing? Profile privacy settings aside, we can delve into almost any aspect of someone else's online life. Why is Facebook stalking so destructive?
We don't stop looking until we find something that's so bad we simply can't look away.
When was the last time you spent five minutes just admiring nice photographs of that guy or girl you have a crush on, before carrying on with your day? Never. You kept going until you found a picture of him or her kissing someone else, and then you slammed your laptop shut in disgust, didn't you? Exactly.
Avoid temptation; ignorance is bliss.
Share and Share Alike
Share links to articles that genuinely interest you, and don't be embarrassed to retweet something you find funny. Make sure your online persona is as much like the real you as possible.
Be bold about your opinions, but be sensitive to the opinions of others. Don't tag people in photos that you know they won't like. Point your friends in the direction of work opportunities or websites that might interest them.
Don't be shy about promoting your achievements, such as writing for a popular online magazine.
Catch (Up) 22
The biggest problem with social media is that it simultaneously improves and diminishes our personal relationships. Being able to observe the online activity of someone you care about makes you feel closer to him or her, but it also allows us to avoid getting in direct contact with each other.
I recently met up with a friend of mine for the first time in months, and I asked him how another mutual friend of ours was doing.
He was able to give me a long, detailed answer to my question, which was great, but when I asked, "When did you last see her?" he replied, "Oh, I haven't seen her for ages. I just know about this stuff from Facebook."
Don't assume that seeing someone's news feed is the same as knowing how he or she is actually living. It's not maintaining a friendship if you don't interact.
Unfollow the Leader
There is no shame in unfollowing someone if his or her social media presence is driving you mad. You might be really good friends with someone who will not stop inviting you to play Candy Crush.
You might not want to see what your ex is up to, but not want to take the significant step of completely unfriending him or her.
Self-preservation is more important than e-etiquette. If you are connected online with people who make you feel inadequate or angry, or even just plain irritated, get them off your news feed.
You wouldn't sit in a room with these people and let them make you feel this poorly in real life, so why waste your time reading material that does?
The "message seen" feature on Facebook messenger has caused huge arguments, terrible misunderstandings and festering resentment -- and that's just between my friends.
That irritating little tick with a time signature will drive you mad if you let it, so pretend it isn't there.
Send your message, and get on with your day. If you're that desperate for an answer, pick up the phone and give the person a call. There's no shame in going the old-fashioned route.
Photo Courtesy: We Heart It