For some people, social media is more annoying than problematic. Still, over the past decade, the number of those engaging in excessive, compulsive, and sometimes toxic sharing on social networking sites has risen.
This behavioral addiction, recognized by mental health professionals as a very real affliction in need of monitoring, is at the heart of most issues currently impacting the effectiveness of online marketing.
- Privacy risks
- Lack of truth
- Lack of quality
- Lack of value
- Negative influence
All of these seem to be behind the movement by consumers toward smaller, more relevant (and personal) communities where they feel they can safely engage while satisfying their social media addiction.
Is Your Social Media Use Helping or Harming?
I get that we’re angry and want change, but where is our anger taking us? I see a society that is angrier, more anxious, more depressed, and more combative than I’ve seen in my lifetime. We are building walls. We are isolating others. We are killing each other. Even those of us who seek justice in the name of equality have this little conundrum about humanity. ~Brad Waters, MSW
The truth is this: We live in an age of technology. Whether we like it or not, technology has impacted every area of our lives and will continue to do so.
How we allow technology to impact our lives is our responsibility. We are responsible for how we use technology in our daily lives and within our professional organizations.
As an entrepreneur, small business owner, community leader or professional at any level, you cannot afford to ignore your personal responsibility when using social media.
Your brand isn’t what you say you are – it’s what your community thinks you are.” ~Dr. Julia Bramble
Managing Advantages and Disadvantages
The good news is that you can choose to enjoy the advantages of social media networking without participating in the disadvantages.
The bad news is that there will always be risks involved because human beings are capable of making a mess of things, even with the best of intentions.
While social media addiction may seem a relatively new phenomenon, an Addiction Center article compares it to other substance disorders, listing the following recognizable traits:
- Mood modification (i.e., engagement in social media leads to a favorable change in emotional states)
- Salience (i.e., behavioral, cognitive, and emotional preoccupation with social media)
- Tolerance (i.e., ever-increasing use of social media over time)
- Withdrawal symptoms (i.e., experiencing unpleasant physical and emotional symptoms when social media use is restricted or stopped)
- Conflict (i.e., interpersonal problems ensue because of social media usage)
- Relapse (i.e., addicted individuals quickly revert back to their excessive social media usage after an abstinence period)
Using Social Media to Influence Social Wellness
Responsibly managing your personal social media content is a good first step in influencing social media wellness. Your posts can have a positive impact on the world’s growing addiction to sharing and engaging online.
Be acutely aware of your ability to control:
- What you offer on social media
- How you offer it on social media
- When you offer it on social media
- Why you offer it on social media
Likewise, be aware that you cannot control:
- What others choose to do with it
- How others choose to perceive it
- When they choose to engage or ignore and Why
Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is watching.” ~C.S. Lewis
Your Message Matters
If you want to help, don’t make your social media posts all about yourself or even your business. Your content needs to be relevant to those consuming it.
Believe that you can make a difference and work toward that end goal when posting on social media.
Authentic content that encourages and inspires others is the kind of content that builds relationships. In turn, building relationships builds trust – the one thing most threatened by toxic social media posts – and most necessary for making anything you do truly successful.
Social media is not going away any time soon – but we can work together to influence the direction it takes.