With millennials posting so many selfies a day on Instagram, Facebook turning into a place for people to yell about politics, and Twitter turning into a mixture of fighting in public and mundane information one could have kept to himself, maybe we could all benefit from taking a look at our own social media posts with a more critical eye. Even though your social media profiles are not who you are, completely, you have to remember that very few people actually know who you are completely—everyone else kind of just has to take a guess based on your last five Facebook posts. Every time you make a post, you’re using your power to influence someone’s day, or even life. That’s a lot of power. You know it because you’ve felt it by the posts of others. So, treat that power responsibly. Here are questions to ask yourself before making that next social media post.
Am I emotional right now?
Are you in the throws of something emotional? Are you posting about something that just happened? News you just received? You might be feeling too strongly to compose a post that will ultimately reflect how you feel about the matter—right now, you’re feeling the initial reaction.
Does it promote a positive outlook?
Does this post promote a positive outlook? When someone sees it, will they feel that it promotes the idea that the world is a good place, that people are good, and that good things are possible?
Do I have all the information?
Are you sure you have all the information you need to make an educated post about this? Have you done your research? Or are you having a strong reaction to a limited and biased piece of information?
Do I ostracize people?
Does your post ostracize a group of people? An impassioned and angry post about, for example, people who buy rather than adopt dogs could ostracize actually good friends of yours who bought their dogs.
Is it aimed at one person?
Is this a post that you are saying is about people in general but is actually about just one person? People can usually see through that.
Does it inspire?
Does this post inspire people? Will it make people feel capable of trying something new? Taking that next step? Will it energize?
Or does it discourage?
Will this post actually make people feel discouraged? Will it make people feel like things won’t work out? Or that their efforts are useless? Just because you’re feeling that right now doesn’t mean you should put that out into the world.
Is it phishing?
Is it sort of phishing? If you’re feeling insecure right now because of…a bad date or a bad interview…is this post just asking people to tell you how great you are? It’s best to find ways to make yourself feel better in those instances, rather than get that affirmation from hundreds of strangers.
Is it too personal?
You are welcome to share whatever you need to with the world. But sometimes when we’re emotional we share things with social media that we later wish only our close circle knew.
Is it ego-feeding?
Will this feed ego? Is it narcissistic? If it’s a post about your own accomplishment, does it remember to acknowledge everyone else who helped you get there?
Is it enabling?
Sometimes, when someone proves us wrong or doesn’t give us what we want, we feel ashamed, and want the rest of the world to tell us that we were right. But we don’t grow by having people simply flatter us and agree with us. If this post will just encourage people to enable you in feeling justified, it doesn’t help you.
Is this what people signed up for?
Did your friends add you to see several daily posts, several paragraphs long, about your political views? Did they friend you to be inundated with self-promotion about your business or product? Probably not. You should create separate pages for those purposes.
Does it really represent me?
Does this post represent who I am? Or is this actually just showing a rare and uncommon sliver of my life that doesn’t put my true self out there?
Do I want strangers to see it?
Would you want strangers to have this information? They easily can—even if your page is private, people have ways around that.
Is it necessary?
Is it necessary? I mean really. We could all benefit from asking ourselves that.