Last year, while scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed, I learned that my beautiful 39 year-old friend Sarah had passed away in her sleep. It took 10 minutes of disbelief and staring at the post several times before my mind could put it all together. Although I was glad to be in the loop, it was a shocking way of hearing of her sudden and untimely death. My knees buckled, and I literally fell to the floor. We hadn’t spoken in a few months, and with her living out of state, I most likely would not have been called with this terrible news.
Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and all other social media outlets have become our megaphone for the most important and personal aspects of our lives. We post instead of picking up the phone. We want everyone to know everything we’re doing, whether positive or negative. It’s how we hear about friends’ engagements, weddings, new babies, new jobs, loss of employment, and even friends passing away.
The Thief of Joy
“Facebook isn’t a Scrapbook” my friend and colleague Erika said with a smile last night during dinner. I’d just told her I was writing this article, and why I felt compelled to do so.
Let’s face it. Social media offers us a path to connect to people who we don’t see or speak to often. It has its advantages for sure, and I need my fix as well. Late at night when all is quiet, I scroll through my feed to check in on everyone. It can either lift my spirits, make me laugh or make me feel more alone than ever. My days disallow for the constant scanning of my personal social media; I’m too busy and to me, it’s a time waster and creates inefficiency in my professional world.
Do I need to reach you and others in my community via social media? Absolutely. But, all of my daytime social media is done to support and guide you with good thoughts and daily inspiration.
Every day in coaching or matchmaking sessions with incredible men and women, I hear firsthand how someone feels left out due to a party that he/she wasn’t invited to, or a woman who feels the sudden pressure to marry and have a baby because it seems that all her friends do is post daily baby pictures and trumpet all the joy that comes with being a new mother. It literally can cause panic when people can’t help but delve into the habit of comparison.
Intellectually, we know the reality: No one posts the day-to-day mundane stuff. We aren’t regaled with play by plays of sleepless nights, a baby with colic, or the way someone had to move back home after a job loss or painful divorce. Instead, it’s an endless sea of “drinks with the girls” shots and duck face kisses.
Strike a Pose
Yes, everyone is happy, successful and beautiful on the internet.
There are no bad hair days, only manes of beautifully cascading locks. None of us drags toilet paper on her shoe, instead we step confidently forward on sexy, towering stilettos, our shapely legs filtered to make our skin glow. We hold beautiful food we throw away after the pic is snapped, we smile and press our cheeks against someone we’ve only just met, we lounge about in fabulous settings, projecting to the world that we have it all.
Is everyone secretly a frustrated model? What are we getting out of staging our lives and playing or inviting the comparison game?
And how does this relate to you, your friendships, relationships and career? Is it possible that your social media might be affecting you negatively in ways you don’t even suspect?
The answer is absolutely, and I’m going to tell you how. I’m also going to tell you how to fix it, and use social media to your (real) advantage.
1. Your Friendships
Everyone experiences FOMO. That’s “fear of missing out,” in case you don’t already know. Of course you want your friends to celebrate your joy, but a constant barrage of nothing but how fabulous your life of parties and travel is can cause a reaction in others that somehow their life isn’t as grand. The truth is, the photos you post are a small fraction of your day to day. No one expects you to constantly be happy and bigger than life. We want you. The REAL you.
Remedy this problem by posting more material that is insightful, helpful, or share more about the true parts of your life. We want to know how you think about the world, your favorite charity, what you read that inspired you. When all we see are images of posing with your friends, we are left with a superficial feeling of your life, and that’s never good. Surely, there’s more to you than this.
2. Your Career
Nowadays, every employer has access, and can learn about new employees by researching their social media platforms. I know that each time I hire someone or research a woman I am considering interviewing for my clients, I have my assistant do a social media check. You can tell a great deal about someone’s character by what they post and you want to make sure you’re getting the right message across.
Hold off on the scandalous photos and party nights. Keep those for your scrapbook, and not for public consumption. We don’t need to see all of that. Also, your colleagues, both current and future, are scanning your social media as well. If you don’t want folks to know everything about you and your life, steer clear of chronic posting. Simply ask yourself before you post: “Is this a good representation of my life and character?” If not, skip it.
3. Your Love Life
Last month I interviewed a woman for a special client of mine. He is handsome, highly educated, successful, hilarious, kind – and one of the most well rounded men I have ever known – and I know a lot of spectacular men through my business! He’s done a great deal of travel in his life and has a work hard/play hard type of mentality. As excited as I was to share my thoughts about his potential match, he stopped me dead in my tracks.
“I already looked at her Instagram and Facebook accounts and I just don’t think she’s my girl. Her life is one yacht after another, parties and private jets. I see too many posed photos with cocktails and glamour and it’s just not me. I think I’ll pass.” Wow, this one hurt.
Yes, this gal is indeed glamorous and her career lends itself to posting gorgeous clothes, hair and make up. But, I couldn’t help think how she could have prevented this review by taking a long look at what she has posted. After all, it’s not like this man lacks sophistication. Quite the contrary, but he’s looking for a woman with good core values, a balance of work ethic, passions and time with family and friends. With all of his success, he still wants the girl who is down to earth and REAL.
Is this gal real? Of course she is, but her social media might have given the wrong impression.
Surely, not every day for her involves being dressed to the nines at an exotic location. But without seeing the other, he just didn’t want to take the chance. And, I’ll remind you, that even with my strong recommendation, I still got a “No thanks”.
So, what are you to do if you don’t have a good friend (or a trusted Matchmaker) to represent the accurate version of you?
Go through your accounts and look at the last year of posts. What’s the common theme? Write down the feeling you get from the photos and posts. If it’s difficult for you to do this for yourself, ask someone who doesn’t know you very well. Ask for two sentences on who they think you are and what you stand for based on your posts. You just might be surprised at the answers.
Anyone who knows me well knows that my family, husband, business and my precious pups are where my heart is. I tend to post one too many photos of dogs in shelters looking for homes, and I like anything that is inspirational, educational, funny or beautiful. To look at my Facebook is to take a journey into my life and what is important to me. Do the same for yourself and clean out anything that doesn’t reflect your journey.
Would love for you to come back to the blog after this exercise and tell me if you felt it was an accurate portrayal or a fantasy look at your life. I’ll be answering your questions and would love to know your progress! Set the tone for your 2016 social media and kick off the year with a conscious, elevated approach to how you share yourself with the world.
Wishing you new beginnings and lasting “Real” relationships!