The Writer's Station
Atlanta, GA

Taking the Bite Out of Social Media

facebook iconA while back I noticed an increase in people “fighting” on Facebook threads. Not just about politics, religion, race, and sex – you know the hot button issues. But on just about everything. From breakfast battles (paleo vs vegan) to cat lovers vs. dogs lovers (full disclosure: unabashed dog lover here,) social media has become a pretty contentious place.

As writers we know that feedback and criticism come with the territory. Especially when we write with our authentic voices. Everyone’s not going to like what we write, and that’s okay. But in my opinion, your personal Facebook feed (for the most part) should be one of the places that’s off limits. And my fear is that some writers, turned off by the negativity of some social media, will be discouraged from engaging all together. And for a writer, I think that’s a dangerous thing.

On my own feed I realized that there was a problem when one person in particular, no matter what I posted, would swoop in and find something critical/negative to say. Every time. From the mundane breakfast post (“that stuff will kill you,” she said, her vegan flag held high) to more serious political posts I made during election time when I encouraged people to vote (“politics is a sham, and that’s why I don’t vote and people who do vote are just sheeple,”). It was getting to the point that before I posted anything I’d cross my fingers and hope she wouldn’t see it. I was restricting my voice for fear of confrontation.

And then it hit me, this is my %$&*^ Facebook feed. My personal Facebook feed. I engage in social media on a personal level because I find it fun and informative. I wasn’t at the point where I felt like giving up on it completely, but I wanted my social sharing experience to be a positive one. I also wanted to be more mindful about the things I posted. So I changed the way I do personal social media. If you’re dealing with contentious news feeds on your Facebook page, consider employing the suggestions below.

1.) Post less. While it sounds counter to my argument about this being my feed, the truth is that no matter how exciting my breakfast was to me, most people don’t care, and that’s okay. It’s “social sharing”, not “social sharing everything.” It’s okay to keep some of your private life private and some opinions to yourself. Not to mention, the less time you spend on Facebook, the more time you spend actually doing other stuff.

2.) If you’re friends with someone but don’t like what they’ve recently posted, you have options. You can hover over the right corner of their post and “hide” the individual post. You can also “hide all” or even “unfollow.” If what they’ve posted is completely offensive to you, unfriend them. If you find the person hateful, or even just overwhelmingly negative, why are you even friends with them? Unfriend them and be done with it. Understand that people might feel the same about you and you might be unfriended too, but that’s what big girl panties (and big boy briefs) are for.

3.) Be selective when sharing your own feed. My friends list includes some very conservative folks. I already know their opinions on certain issues and don’t want to engage with them on Facebook about those issues. For that reason, they’re in my acquaintance list and don’t see everything I post. When someone is in your acquaintance list and you post only to “friends except acquaintances” (drop down box on your status bar) you won’t see their stories and they won’t see yours. That’s what I’d done to the “friend” I referred to earlier who, I guess, figured out she was no longer seeing my feed when she realized she hadn’t “argued” with me a while. She un-friended me. Glory halleluiah.

Facebook and other social sharing sites can be contentious places. Some people like that, but if you’re like me, and don’t, employ some of these techniques and maybe you can post a little happier in the future.

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