I have a friend who was so disheartened by the negative attitudes she was encountering on Facebook that she actually deactivated her account for awhile and now approaches her interaction with the site completely differently. I have to agree that there are certainly times a contact’s status message has given me pause – did s/he really just say that?! In print?
Has social media really just given us all a medium for a giant b*tchfest where it’s suddenly okay to publicly complain about our job, spouse, kids, whatever?
I admit, I periodically scroll through past Facebook statuses and posts as well as my tweets to get a glimpse of what I’m saying about myself. Am I complaining too often? Too kid-heavy? Sharing too much? Posting just to post or actually sharing something valuable? I think this is the PR training in me – what do the individual statements when taken as a whole communicate about me?
Granted, this space is probably where I am most guilty of complaining/venting/ranting, but I also have endless space to explore and explain and dig and since it’s my therapy space, I tend to allow those things to evolve. The good thing is that I tend to reflect and grow as a result and hopefully don’t bore you all with the same old rants each time I post.
I admit that I was recently guilty of tweeting a complaint about how I had nothing to wear to a mom’s night out. It was trite and vain and a post just to post. Once I typed it and hit enter, I instantly regretted it. I know people whose babies are still stuck in the hospital weeks after being born, folks struggling through a death in the family, people fighting cancer, problems much more worthy of a vent than my petty inability to find a cute pair of pants that fit and matched the top I wanted to wear. And I promptly apologized for my vanity.
So, are we under an obligation to tell folks when their negativity has gone too far? Or do we simply ignore it, skipping over those negative messages along with the Farmville updates? Or, should we all just take a step back and reread that status message before we hit the enter button?
I suppose all I can do is worry about myself and do what I always strive to do (not always achieve, mind you, but try nonetheless) — and that’s be a good example to my kids. Sure, they aren’t reading Facebook or following me on Twitter, but just like all my interactions – online, face-to-face or otherwise – they all represent me. And from now until eternity, that me is a mother with two boys who hopefully will show them how to be caring, empathetic, optimistic citizens of the world.
Whether it’s in 140 characters or not.