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  • Jolene Roehlkepartain

Rethinking Social Media

How are you using social media now? What are your goals?

Experts talk about the purpose of social media as SLIM: sharing, learning, interacting, and marketing.

Lately, many people feel like they’ve been SLIMED on social media: shocked, lambasted, injured, maltreated, exploited, destroyed.

This bad behavior only ups the ante on more bad behavior. Thus, I’ve seen friendships decimated, and long-term, live-in relationships bust apart. (I know of people breaking up via social media and never personally discussing it.)

How does this happen? By people getting upset and hitting “unfriend” (on Facebook) or “block” (on Twitter or Instagram). These are the equivalent of screaming at someone, saying you never want to speak to them again, except there’s no screaming and no face-to-face interaction. And it typically results in a lot more hurt, anger, and misunderstanding than attempting to resolve a conflict in person.

If you get upset on social media, take a break. If you’re still upset after the break, “unfollow” someone instead. Work through the conflict with the person you know by talking (or avoiding), not by making hurtful moves on social media.

And follow the WWGS (What Would Grandma Say) rule. If you’d say it to your Grandma, go ahead. This will protect you from saying stupid things, from posting inappropriate images, and from doing other bad behaviors that could alter the way that teachers, bosses, colleagues, classmates, family members, college admission counselors, and friends think about you.

So what are your goals for social media?

For me, social media is a powerful way to connect with others. It’s about building community; sharing interesting, creative, and funny things; and helping people feel better—instead of worse. It’s about finding solutions and creating a better world where people are valued, people matter, and people raise each other up.

These are the goals I’m aiming for.

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