I recently went through all my social media platforms and deleted everything that didn’t truly represent who I am today. Lots of tweets that weren’t adding value to who I am, and many Instagram pictures that showed me as the college student I was four years ago instead of the professional I am today.
Today, more than ever, I think that people should be able to post whatever makes them feel happy and empowered. A picture of yourself at a happy time of your life, a personal — and respectful — opinion on a controversial matter, an inspirational quote to get you through the day. If it makes you feel happy, and it’s not insensitive to others, go for it! Under this premise, however, there is also a certain social responsibility that we must understand.
Here are the main things I wish I had considered years ago, and why my recent social media purge has liberated me from someone I no longer am.
Your social media follows you
Freedom of speech is something that people on the internet love to hide behind. We often see comments along the lines of “this is my opinion and you have to deal with it.” Unfortunately, this has led us, and especially young adults, to think we can share anything without any repercussions. This is a huge mistake.
Your social media platforms are the way in which you present yourself to the world. Therefore, your political opinions, the words you choose to communicate with, the way you talk to and about others and even the seemingly harmless memes you post to make fun of public figures you don’t like, matter. Ever time you hit publish, you’re showing the world this is who you are. It’s important to make sure every post you share is mindful, and to know that anything you say will be used by your readers to form an opinion on who you are.
You can’t be two people at the same time
The pictures on my Instagram were fun for a 21 year-old college student, but that’s no longer who I am nor want to be today.
You can’t choose to be someone in real life and a different person on social media. Typing something instead of saying it out loud doesn’t make you less part of it, but instead it shows that this is what you truly believe, and that you stand behind your comment both behind a screen and face to face.
It’s okay to evolve, it’s okay to grow daily and to think differently than you did a year ago, but it’s also hard to look back and regret things you said, things that can cost you a job, a friendship, and will prevent people from knowing the wonderful person you are becoming.
You don’t have to share everything
I created a Facebook page in 2008. Ever since, I’ve shared every trip, every picture, every thought, every accomplishment. This is one of my biggest regrets.
Social media is a great way for us to connect. I love it so much I have partially built my career around it. But I’ve also spent more time than I’m proud of stressing over likes, editing and filtering pictures, not enjoying moments because showing I was having a good time was more important that actually having a good time.
Here’s what I know today.
Growing your social following is extremely powerful for your brand. The more people that follow you, the broader your message will be. I fully support this and am more than happy to share some tips on how to promote your brand on social. But there’s another side to it — your worth is not dictated by how many followers you have.
Young professionals, new startups, women of all ages … please don’t keep making this mistake. Stop counting followers and start putting your efforts into sharing meaningful content that you can be proud of for years to come. I have made this mistake many times, and I’m relieved to know that this is not who I am today.
The Future of Social Media
Writing is something I am very passionate about, and I want to be able to share my content on as many platforms as I can. I am relaunching my website, redoing my social platforms and trying new things where I can expand my skills. I want my Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn (Gosh! so many to keep up with) to reflect that.
I was once told that today brands want to act like people and people want to act like brands. Whether we like it or not, social media is our brand, and we have to treat it with the responsibility it deserves.
I want my brand to showcase kindness, respect, spontaneity and growth. From now on, I will look for these attributes before hitting send.
Do you agree? Leave a comment below!