Recently, I started being resentful towards using social media.
Even if I do my best to set boundaries and tell myself to be rational, I just can’t disregard my emotions. Going through a series of deep heart-wrenching reflections, I finally realized the reason for my resentment: I have a deep feeling of hurt after using social media.
This could be new to you or actually very common already, but here are three ways we tend to hurt others (and get hurt) after using social media.
First, we react… excessively.
Social media has become an avenue for freedom of expression, but we usually cross the line by firing our sharp-edged statements usually against famous personalities, like celebrities, athletes, politicians, and trending nobodies.
Honestly, I don’t exempt myself in disregarding harmful consequences of hating and bashing other people.
But why do we still drop hateful words?
First, we’re confident that famous personalities don’t know us and can’t fight us back. Even if they defend themselves, we’re most likely unaffected.
Second, we can mask our identities, pretend to be someone else, and protect our reputation. It’s very possible and convenient for us that they can’t trace us back and hurt us physically.
Third, we assume that our comments wouldn’t matter even if it creates a controversy. We even justify that they should be used to dealing with bashers because it’s part of their industry.
When these celebrities do something wrong or unacceptable by our standards, we become judgmentally self-righteous to bash and hurt them. But in reality, using social media to put justice in our own hands makes us no different from them.
Second, we don’t respond… at all.
In contrast to the first point, we can also hurt others with our silence, apathy, and neglect. Ironically, using social media should help people communicate and respond better, but we often choose to ignore and just focus on our lives.
Personally, I’ve had my experience of receiving silence as a response, which is very frustrating. In this case, silence doesn’t only mean yes, but I could create a million assumptions to convince my logic.
Sadly, receiving few or even no response can hurt us more than getting constructive criticisms. Even if we try to understand and get used to this trend, the increasing incidents pile up and just make us more vulnerable to feeling hurt.
Take this for example. We send important announcements or encouragements to different groups of people. It may be obvious that they’ve “seen” our message, but didn’t acknowledge, respond, or even react. There’s no indication whether they understood, appreciated, or disliked our message, and it’s very disappointing.
We may not have social media “enemies”, but we could be unsure if we also have enough number of real “friends”.
In my experience as a writer, I had my share of frustrations when I see very few feedbacks after working hard for a blog post.
What’s more hurting, the same people who seem to ignore my requests to read my posts still have time to share and respond to “nonsense” things at that very moment.
I’ve reached the point of almost doubting myself – my importance and value. Why can’t they even show a bit of support by responding to a friend who needs attention and feedback?
Lastly, we post about ourselves… too much.
We often thought that using social media is about sharing our lives with others, right? I also share my life and look at others as well.
But the moment came when I started becoming unhappy for others. To avoid getting hurt further, I started to set limits in using social media.
During my hiatus, I discovered that the real cause for my unhappiness is envy.
There seems to be a struggle within me for quite some time. When I truly try to be happy for others, there’s a corresponding feeling of envy, especially when I see too much of their successes, compared to my unemployment status, depression, and self-pity.
Envy shouldn’t be permanent, but we usually have tendencies to feel bad about ourselves because of what others post.
Feeling envy isn’t right, and we need to deal with this properly.
Inversely, we can post too much of our good life and receive praises from our virtual friends. I’ve also done this several times, and it feels so good to be loved, accepted, and admired by everyone.
The point is, whether only the good and successful life is shown in the light of social media, it becomes an insensitive action for another person.
Unintentionally, we show others our nice, perfect, and #blessed life, not mindful if other people feel small because they don’t have what we have.
Our defensive responses are “It’s their problem, not mine”, “I worked hard for this”, “I have the right to do this”, or “It’s my life and they have nothing to do about it.”
The sad reality of sharing how “blessed” we are often makes the little successes of people seem so insignificant. We could be favored, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But it can provoke a person to feel very low self worth about him or herself.
To be honest, I was insensitive at times and committed the same act. Looking now at the two points of view, I realize that too much sharing of “good” is an overkill that complicates being hurt.
How to Avoid Hurting Others Using Social Media
These days, the credibility of social media depends on how we use it. If we truly want to reap its benefits, here are possible ways to avoid hurting others using social media:
Empathize: place ourselves in their shoes.
To avoid reacting excessively, we should try placing ourselves into their situations. As I try to internalize, I realized that one hurtful remark can make a big impact and increase feelings of pains and depression.
If we think we deserve love, acceptance, and understanding from others, then we have no right to deprive them of theirs.
Spare intentional time to show interest and concern for others.
I’m not playing holy or righteous in sharing my experiences, but using these instead to expose my shortcomings. I still admit my neglect, disinterest, and ignorance of my friends’ online requests to like or read their posts.
Yes, it’s hard to show interest and concern for everyone, but paying attention for just 5 to 10 minutes (or even a minute) to read, like, or say a phrase of encouragement can already boost our friend’s confidence.
In the end, we still have the choice of filtering the content. My point is, just give them a chance before you turn them down.
Ask yourself these questions before sharing something.
The definition of too much varies, but it mainly boils down to our motives and intentions. Before posting a “worth-sharing” content about us, ask ourselves these questions:
- Do we really need to share this?
- Why do we want to post this?
- How could we help and serve others as we show our successes and detailed activities?
My friends (and I’m speaking to myself as well), let’s renew our mindsets, change our habits, and transform the world.
Using social media should be one of our ways to reach out to the needy, demonstrate selflessness, show them love in this cruel planet, and share the undeserving grace we’ve receive from God.