We all know that person, the one whose Facebook posts make you cringe, but at the same time, you can’t look away. It might be a guilty pleasure to see them bashing their co-workers, complaining about family, the horrible service they received at one of their local fast-food places, or generally proclaiming all their life’s woes. They use social media as a stream of consciousness to vet out negative emotions, people respond in the comments, and it fills a need.
None of us is immune from many of these hardships and annoyances of life, but we can always choose a more positive perspective and outlook. At the very least, we have a responsibility to filter through what should or shouldn’t be shared on social media.
There was a time when I shared a lot more about my personal life on social media. I routinely posted about my kids, my workouts, and general daily activities. Most of what I had to share was positive or humorous. I love to make people laugh! More recently, I’ve had a shift in the way I think about and use social media. Not everyone deserves to know me or the things in my life that are most intimate. Knowing me, my inner workings, the things that make me mad, how I respond to stress, or everything that makes me happy…it’s a privilege to be a part of how I experience life and the world around me. Once I placed that kind of value on those aspects of my life, my social posts slowed down and became a lot less personal. I still engage, but my vetting process is much different.
1. The Negative Posts
I once read a friend’s post about the negative experience she was having at the place she and her husband booked to stay while on their travels in Italy. While she was venting a legitimate frustration, my first thought was, “You’re in Italy. You’re traveling the world, and I’m at home folding laundry with no vacation plans in sight.” I couldn’t help but think if I had the privilege of world travels, I wouldn’t post what seemed like such a petty complaint. Of course, I could have chosen to think about her plight differently and recognized that her frustration was valid, but the post seemed trite, considering the big picture of such an opportunity. While things like this happen no matter our circumstances in life, the complaints are better left to private conversations.
2. The Embarrassing Posts
Facebook memories bring up a lot of things from the past…literally. While I was scrolling through the memories one day, I saw a photo I had posted years ago. My objective at the time was, no doubt, to be entertaining or humorous in some way, but in the background, you could see my kitchen and family room which were an absolute mess. It wasn’t just a little thing here and there; it was like a bomb went off. Seeing that post years later, I was completely embarrassed.
Look, I understand that normalizing and accepting these things is the popular mantra, but I’m also certain that at the time, I wasn’t focused on what was in the background of my picture. I was in such a hurry to share whatever it was that I didn’t vet out how some people might perceive me once I made that public. Whether or not you have a concern for it now, it will potentially affect how others think about and relate to you. Posts like these display a lack of discipline, carelessness, uncleanliness, and disorganization, and those are not things I want to be associated with. Those candid moments aren’t always beneficial in the long run.
3. The General Over-sharing Posts
There are those who post on social media many times throughout the day. They share everything from the mundane to their deep thoughts, personal and family achievements, frustrations, and sadness. It seems to be every aspect of their life that’s on display for all to see. They are exposing themselves, and it’s not always good.
To make a comparison, wearing shorts and sandals makes perfect sense in the hot summer months when that attire is completely appropriate. However, if I go out on a 30-degree winter morning dressed like that, I feel exposed. It’s not just that my skin is exposed and I’m cold, but dressing this way in cold weather is not “occasion-appropriate.” So, not only are you exposed to the cold air, but it feels awkward because it’s inappropriate for the season and to the cold temperatures. Chances are, if you’re constantly oversharing on social media, you don’t feel the inappropriateness because it has become normal. It’s a good idea to reconsider what you’re posting and how often, as the quality of your friendships is likely being negatively affected.
4. The Chronic Sickness Posts
While there are legitimate health journeys that are often shared on social media, there are those who seem to be constantly sick or injured with one thing or another throughout their entire lives. I’m not going to get into the psychology of this, but I am drawing attention to how this is likely being perceived by others. Once you’ve routinely made these posts public information, you can’t retract how people think and feel about you once they’ve been drenched in what is constantly being fed to them through social posts.
If a person is constantly suffering from sickness or injury, whether it’s physical, mental, or emotional, it’s easily possible to understand them as being unreliable, undisciplined, depressing, and lazy. None of those are good qualities or characteristics in a person and can begin to affect and define your relationship with other people.
5. The Disingenuous “My Life is Amazing” Posts
Maybe it’s a multi-level marketing business, or maybe it’s a person’s need to constantly impress others but bragging social media posts can be hurting your relationships. At one time in my life, I was part of a network marketing company (I’m not anymore), so I can personally speak to this. Our business coaches would tell us that sharing your amazing lifestyle on social media would be a wonderful way to attract potential clients. They would see you working remotely, the flexibility in your schedule, or the new home or beach house you just bought, and they’d reach out to you to find out how they can find that same success.
My initial response to this was, “Nope!” While it’s true that those sorts of posts can come from a genuine and sincere place, it’s manipulation, and I won’t do it. The constant bragging and showing off, even if it’s subtle, can be hurting your relationships in the real world.
6. The ”I’ve Just Been Through a Breakup” Posts
Relationship breakups are a terrible thing that can be painful not only to the people directly involved but also to those around them. I don’t think anyone truly wants to go through it, even when it’s a necessary action. It can seem therapeutic to share aspects of your breakup on social media with emotions ranging from anger and hatred to celebration of your newfound freedom. These can be easy targets for that knee-jerk Facebook post. While providing some insight into personal aspects of your breakup could be helpful to some, you might be at risk in your other relationships.
There are those who, after a breakup, share a steady stream of posts about narcissism or some other type of abuse. While this is part of the way you may be choosing to deal with what you believe you experienced in your relationship, it eventually becomes the first thing people think about when they think of you. Unless you want your name to be synonymous with “bad breakup” or “messy divorce,” it may be time to move away from this type of posting on social media.
The Takeaway: It might be time to change your approach to posting on social media.
Be aware that those following your journey on social media have likely placed you into a category in their minds. Rather than being the “over-sharer,” the “angry divorced person,” or the “perpetually perfect” one, realize that there’s value to how people experience you when you’re together. If social media posts are pre-determining who you are to others, it might be time to change your approach to what you post. Think about it, have a vetting process, and decide what truly represents you in the best way possible.