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The 9th of November is Social Media Kindness Day—a relatively new awareness day, created in honour of Caroline Flack. For those who don’t know the story, Caroline Flack sadly took her own life back in 2020. This heartbreaking news came as a shock to many, and the tragedy still stands today as a devastating symbol of the need for change on social media.
Social Media Kindness Day encourages people to pledge to make social media a kinder place. To begin to make a conscious effort to consider what we’re posting, why we’re posting it and how it will affect others.
When social media gets used well it can: connect friends and family, inspire new ideas, boost creativity, and supply small businesses with a helping hand.
When social media gets used badly it can: lead to harmful comparisons, feelings of inadequacy, fear of missing out, bullying and a weakening of real-life connections.
We have the power to decide which way the story ends. Learning how to make your social media a kinder place will benefit you and those around you. If everyone made a few small changes, we’d have a different book on our hands entirely. Try some of the tips below and see how your experience of social media improves.
With words comes power. Power to shape, mould, change, impact, hurt, heal and even the power to make someone’s day. Harsh words can ring in someone’s ears for a lifetime. Kind words can spark positivity and connection. This is true in real life, as it is on social media.
Social media provides the platform to communicate with others without being face to face. It’s easier to make passing judgements and hurtful comments when you aren’t interacting with someone in person. So there’s a tendency for people to forget how impactful their words can be on social media. But we are all human. That’s why it’s so important to choose your words wisely.
Don’t put others down. Check your facts before you post and be conscious about your word choices—they might make more of an impact than you think.
Each and every one of us is unique. That uniqueness brings individual opinions and different points of view. And while our individuality is a blessing, it also has the potential to cause conflicts. Clashes of opinion are almost inevitable when millions of people are communicating across the world. But there is a way of handling these differences that won’t hurt the feelings of others. We can begin to make social media a kinder place by handling conflict with care when it arises. We all have the potential to make this space a place where everyone is free to voice their views.
Understanding the views of others and considering different opinions can broaden the mind to new perspectives. Before you jump to conclusions and dismiss others opinions, try to understand and respect their viewpoint. You might learn something new as a result.
Studies have highlighted the potential social media has to negatively impact our mood when we’re excessively consuming negative content¹. Consuming the constant stream of information online can be draining to your emotional state. When you’re scrolling, keep an eye on how you’re feeling. The snippets of others’ lives on social media don’t paint the full picture. So it’s important to be conscious of this when you’re scrolling.
Cleanse your feed and unfollow anyone or anything that doesn’t sit well with you. Having a balanced newsfeed will boost the quality of your interactions with others on social media.
You can also improve the feeds of others by sharing positive content as much as possible. This kind of positive sharing can create ripple effects that span far and wide. With our words and actions, we have the power to change the future of social media for the better.
¹ Buchanan K, Aknin LB, Lotun S, Sandstrom GM (2021) Brief exposure to social media during the COVID-19 pandemic: Doom-scrolling has negative emotional consequences, but kindness-scrolling does not. PLoS ONE 16(10): e0257728. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0257728
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