Four Blind Spots That May Be Sabotaging Your Social Media Experience
As we kick off 2018, social media is, by now, a regular avenue for people to develop and maintain relationships. I appreciate that it enables us to catch up on the lives of friends, family and long-forgotten acquaintances like never before — we smile over growing kids, pray for any heavy challenges and even enjoy some witty commentary. So much of social media’s added value comes from how much easier it has made our ability to connect and care.
Yet despite the highlights of increased connectivity, I have recently become hyper-aware of how social media posts negatively affect people. In particular, there are four blind spots that we can easily miss while scrolling through the updates and opinions of those we follow online. Ultimately, they can lead to a more negative social media experience for us and others, and are worth avoiding in 2018.
1. Offense Blind Spot: When you are easily offended by differing opinions.
It’s starting to feel as if everywhere you turn, someone is offended by another person’s opinion. In fact, there’s a growing volume of social commentators who’ve observed that the general public appears to be looking for ways to be offended. It’s as if our freedom to express disagreeable opinions was replaced with the freedom to take offense at every perceived “micro-aggression.” Yet there will always be people who see the world differently than we do. Rather than condemning opinions that don’t support ours, we should embrace the opportunity to digest opposing arguments and world views. Showing people respect, even when we disagree with their opinions, radiates the gracious love of Jesus in a powerful way. We are meant to be a light (Matthew 5:16) that contrasts brightly with the miserable and condescending behavior of “stone throwers.”
2. FOMO Blind Spot: When you are easily irritated by the Fear Of Missing Out on someone else’s fun.
When viewing snapshots of social gatherings that we weren’t part of, it’s easy to think “so how did they get invited to that?” or “so it looks like everyone but me was invited out for fun.” Our tendency to compete or compare often makes us feel left out, insignificant or even inferior when we see the good experiences our friends and family are having… without us. Yet if the goal of social media is to engage in the lives of those we love, why not celebrate their joy and embrace the anticipation of the next opportunity to spend time with them, too.
3. Victim Blind Spot: When you are quick to use social media to air your recent frustrations.
We’ve all been there — something frustrating or inconvenient happens, and we automatically vent our grievances on social media, seeking solace or confirmation from the comments of friends and family. Yet the truth is, our “problem posts” about rude retail associates or the sluggish traffic on I-690 W pale in comparison to the true, often hidden, problems people struggle with everyday. The person reading that problem post may be suffering with a life changing disease, trying to survive a bitter divorce, battling through their child’s opioid addiction, trying to work up the courage to confront their lying spouse or otherwise facing legitimate turmoil. You could use social media to share petty frustrations, but just think of how powerful your posts and comments can be when used to encourage, build up and support those who are living through life-changing challenges instead.
4. Distraction Blind Spot: When your “comments” follow you constantly.
*DING!* There it is — another social media notification. You commented your way into a message thread and now your devices are dinging with notifications all day. Sure, we can mute them, but even that is just another thing to remember to do. If we aren’t careful, we can quickly be pulled into online conversations and simultaneously pulled out of the life happening around us off-screen. As great as social media is for bringing people together, it’s also adept at damaging relationships when we put our in-person conversations on hold to focus on keeping up with ongoing online conversations.
Social media is not going away anytime soon. As it becomes more and more a part of our everyday lives, it’s worth evaluating how you use social media and whether it’s a source of joy and friendship, or of offense, irritation, frustration and distraction. By addressing these four blind spots in 2018, you can enjoy a social media experience centered on engaging, celebrating and supporting the lives of others.