On social media, it’s easy to take advantage of freedom of speech, to speak our minds about political issues, and to provide our two cents on national disasters or events around the world. When the hurricanes were at large in recent weeks, I saw the value in social sites, which I used to make sure people I cared for were safe and communicated with those directly affected via email or phone privately. It’s comforting to know that I can check in on loved ones and get confirmation they are safe and well.
Sharing what we’re doing in our lives has also become the way people stay in touch and connected. I’m appreciative of all that. However, it’s important to draw boundaries within the internet-sphere and to do so thoughtfully and kindly.
If you haven’t noticed, I haven’t been active much on social media except twitter, which I do my best to keep my profile positive, to share things for the greater good and be of influence to others. I do not discuss politics or anything that may divide me from someone else or trigger debates or arguments. I feel that no matter who you are, a celebrity or not, everyone has the right to stand up for themselves when freedom of speech is being abused. I’ve come to realize that social media has also been a source for people to talk at you, not to you. There is a big difference.
Just in the previous few weeks, I’ve had to draw boundaries with former colleagues–people that want to share my story to other sites and post photos of creative work I did years ago. While I’m grateful for the mentions and to reach broader audiences, I’d like to be involved in the process instead of signing online and finding a story posted about me with dated or irrelevant information. Then, I have to go through the daunting process of politely asking that the story and/or photo be removed. I always request that people consult with me first before sharing anything, but we don’t always have control over what people do. People have a 90 percent chance of getting a yes when they ask, hey, can I post X from X work we did at X time, I’ll most likely say yes. It’s not unkind or rude or being “cold” when you request others to check in with you first.
Like with Instagram, I’ve been policing the social site and making sure pictures of my creative work aren’t being posted without my consent. That’s the only reason I really use it, except for my occasional visits to the stories section of the app.
Social media can be quite burdensome, and I have often felt robbed. How I manage my time now evolves around my use of the internet. Lately, I’ve gone to extremes to turn off my cell phone in the hours of the morning when I’m writing. The time I spend working is precious. Various statistics report users spend up to 50 minutes a day on social media, but actually, that number has increased in previous years.
Since I’ve chosen a creative career, I’ve felt pressured to be online frequently because having a social presence–well that’s just everything. No, it’s not. When I think of the term, ‘presence’ I want to make sure mine aligns with my values, beliefs, and the things I’m doing today. If not, I turn to the ‘delete’ button.
To conclude this topic on drawing boundaries on social media; it’s a wise idea to avoid talking about other people, especially when you haven’t been permitted to do so. And no, it’s NOT OK if the individual happens to be a huge celebrity and well, everyone talks about celebrities. They have a right to call you out and should, and I know celebrities that do. They, too, are people.
Comments and posts affect everybody even if you think they don’t or even if your intention was in the right place. I use social media very mindfully and make sure that what I post won’t have a negative repercussion on someone else. If you have nothing nice to say (or in this case, post), don’t say or post anything at all.