Social media – what story are you sharing? What impact does it have?

Love it or hate it, social media is a place that provides a fascinating insight into who we are as people and as individuals. We happily share our thoughts and happenings, engage with people we know or don’t, in a range of spaces – private, closed or open. It is often a place were the real you comes to light, yet this can be without the context of really knowing you (what has gone on in your day and the life experiences that have made you, you), for the many that are watching from the side or engaging. It is at this point that we need to start to consider the story that we are building. Are you in control of the version of you that is being viewed, and who is building an understanding of you? These two questions need consideration.

So are you in control of the story of you? Before you even start sharing life events, your opinion and the ever loved cat video, you need to consider the social spaces you are in, what settings (and personal boundaries) you are putting in place to determine who sees your content and thoughts. You see social media is a great tool for connecting with people. It is through connecting with others (be it random or deliberate) that we gain insights into peoples lives, insights that we may not have had access to before. When we gain an insight into someones life is it what we expect? Is it something that makes you feel uncomfortable or comfortable? Does it change the way you interact with them? Let’s now flip the question and ask what might the perception be of you by those who follow, friend or connect with you?

The sharing that can go on in social spaces can often be quite personal and possibly not what you would share with that work colleague who has just started at your workplace, yet they now have access to you as you have just accepted their friend request via Facebook. It was interesting to listen to a colleague tell a personal story of how they suddenly were impacted negatively at work due to their social media. What was the issue? This person was heavily tattooed, before connecting on social media the tattoos were not a work problem as they were covered when at work and unknown to work colleagues, yet suddenly through connecting with a colleague or two they became an issue at work as they were now known. It is at this point that we need to be mindful of who we are sharing with and what we are sharing, and from this the unintended impact (which can be positive, neutral or negative).

The following two videos are worth looking at regarding this, they present different angles that may expand your thinking and questioning:

ABC Lateline – sanitising your social media

How private is your personal information?

Social media is opening up the things we once kept to a known circle, potentially just family and close friends. It is also highlighting prejudices and bullying behaviour. And on a more positive note, it is enabling others to flourish through connecting with vibrant communities that support and have robust conversation. It is a tool that is providing an incredible insight into our society, and raising lots of questions about who we are.

What do you think the role of education, the workplace and other organisations have in supporting our understanding of our usage of social media as we navigate the space? A space that allows those who once did not have the opportunity to be heard, to now be heard. You see, social media allows each and everyone of us to have access to people, groups, businesses, organisations etc… that were once difficult to access due to social structures.


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