As marketeers we recognise the incredible power of social media. Like all power it can be wielded for good or bad. In light of the tragic death of the much loved Caroline Flack we wanted to help raise awareness of the effects of social media.
We manage several social media channels both for ourselves and clients, creating interesting content, sharing relevant news, engaging in conversations, analysing metrics and demographics. It has huge value for marketing, brand awareness, thought leadership, announcing events, offers, things of interest. We use it for good so it works well for us and gives our clients a solid and measurable return on investment.
But there is a dark side. The misuse of social platforms leads to outcomes that can be fatal. We are aiming to raise awareness of these issues with a campaign looking at each of these ‘issues’ individually, outline ways to combat them and open up the floor to discuss.
Please help us raise awareness of these problems. Let’s try to be aware of, address where necessary and beat those who are using social media for all the wrong reasons. Furthermore, let’s remember to #BeKind.
Power of Words
‘The pen is mightier than the sword’ is truer today than ever before. Freedom of speech allows anyone with a phone to comment on anyone’s post. The repercussions for the writer are usually nil. For the person they have commented upon, the effects can be upsetting, provocative, aggravating and in some cases, have devastating effects on their mental health.
Criticism can be constructive when used in the correct environment, with other thoughts and feelings in mind. We ask that you think before berating strangers, celebrities and even friends and family online. Words hurt, think before you speak. We understand that’s there’s a freedom of speech but where’s the line when it comes to hurting people?
Increase in Digital Communication
Nearly 2 in 3 of all humans on this planet are now connected to the web. As we become more connected to strangers around the world, we become less connected to those close to us. Our friends, family, colleagues; they’re on their phone, we’re lost in ours.
Sometimes it’s important, but most of the time, let’s be real here, it ain’t! As we waste our precious life scrolling through social media, shopping apps, whatever, we’re taking steps away from the important people in our life, the ones we love, real human beings.
So, we ask for you to put the phone down and start connecting in ‘real life.’ Only you can change your habits.
A social media troll is someone who purposefully says something controversial in order to upset, hurt or provoke a negative reaction. Freedom of speech allows us to respond to almost anyone’s post and the barrier of sitting behind a keyboard means the writer typically faces no consequences. The reality from the perspective of those being trolled is the opposite.
Negative, insulting or hateful comments can lead to upset, humiliation, depression, anger and in the worst cases, suicide. This is simply bullying. We are all far too aware of the devastating effects that bullying can have on people. Sometimes humour or a corrective response can curb their activities but if they are persistently trying to ridicule or upset you, ignore them, block them, ban them.
Privacy is something to be taken very seriously. There is an incredible amount of information about you on your phone. Be careful what you post on social media; be aware that it may not just be your friends that are seeing it. Makes sure you have gone through your privacy settings on both your phone and also the individual social media platforms.
All social media apps have settings to allow you to control various aspects such as who can view your posts, your contact information, whether people can comment, banned words. This is not just to stop trolls, catfishing or stalkers but also cyber criminals who may access sensitive accounts or use you to create fake identities.
Catfishing is putting out a false impression online. Sometimes this can be fairly innocent, such as someone using a younger or tuned photo of themselves. There is a more sinister side with people specifically setting up fake identities and photos to befriend people to con them into personal or romantic meetings or worse.
It is very easy for someone to set up a fake identity online and there are millions out there. Tell tale signs include unwillingness to video chat, over elaborate stories, seeming too good to be true, wanting to progress a relationship quickly; use your gut. Simple rule; if you don’t know them, don’t meet them on your own.
Behind the Mask
Social media is and can be used as front.
We choose the part of our lives that we want to show on social media. Filters are used, captions are deeply thought about and more often than not, you’re posting something with the intention of getting a lot of likes. This is why its easier for people to mask their emotions and how they’re really feeling. In our case we post content that we think people will find interesting, exciting or engaging. The vast majority of the time, we’re sitting behind a computer, having meetings, working hard; not typically very interesting stuff.
Social media is the mask hiding reality based off decisions that you make. Your friends / family are also doing this, this is why it’s harder to see that they might be struggling. Just because your friend is posting pleasant things doesn’t mean they even feel happy.
So, open up more, make a plan to start showing all aspects of your life and check in with friends and family even if they look happy on social media. Let’s become more real!
The mask of social media can cause some to compare themselves. Why is her life so much better than mine? How can he afford that car? How do they go on so many holidays? The truth is that they are rarely living better lives, simply showing off what they consider to be the best bits.
Don’t compare yourself to carefully curated imagery. There is always a bigger fish in the sea. If it is creating anxiety then stop following these accounts and find something more inspirational. There’s so many good people out there posting useful content, kind words, motivational posts; follow them instead.
Cyberstalking is when the internet is used to harass someone or a group of people. Cyberstalking can come in the form of threats, negative comments, false accusations, or information used to threaten, harass or embarrass someone.
People stalk their ex’s consumed by what they’re up to, what their new partner looks like. This can lead to threatening or intimidating behaviour. Some become obsessed with strangers or celebrities they’ve found on social media, others with people they’ve seen in the gym, work, in a bar. Some may be disgruntled employees. Whatever the reason it is disrespectful.
There are different levels of stalking, some fairly innocent, whereas others become consumed. Stories of stalkers tracking down people by identifying locations from reflections in their eyes are increasing. Stalking can become an addiction and like all addictions, can consume lives.
So, if you are someone being stalked then make sure you ask for help. Cyberstalking is a crime and covered by the law, this is how much of a serious matter it is.
Addiction takes many forms. Social media addiction is a growing issue. Like any addiction it steals from the rest of your life & hurts those around you. Time is lost, friends are ignored, life fades away as you scroll through miles of endless posts with little, if anything, gained at the end.
Try having a digital detox for a day or week or even setting parental controls to limit your usage. Most phones now warn you about screen time and there are apps that can help you restrict your use. Find something else more constructive to fill the many hours you’ll get back.
Social media has had a positive impact on the LGBT community in terms of connectivity, being able to share stories, understand who they are, having a sense of community, the ability to help each other overcome social stigmas, abuse or discrimination.
Unfortunately, even in this modern world, prejudice and hate still exists and clearly it is easy to be hostile behind the anonymity of a keyboard. People are people; there are good and bad irrespective of sexual preference, gender, race, age, whatever. Yes, some people are different but so what? Live and let live in 2020 means acceptance of each other and each other’s gender or sexual orientation.
So, think before you speak or write your opinions, don’t define people by their sexual orientation. Spread love not hate.
“Some people these days are too judgemental. I can tell just by looking at them.” It’s very easy to judge a book by its cover with preconceived ideas of a particular race, age, sexuality, gender’s characteristics. Some stereotypes hold a modicum of truth but tend to be an oversimplified view of that person.
We are all individual and in this vastly connected world, we are well aware that people are different, but just like being left handed or right-handed, neither is right or wrong. There is good and bad in all races and religions, in all sexualities and genders.
Think before stereotyping someone with an unfairly biased opinion.
The link between social media and loneliness is well documented. Spending hours scrolling through apps can lead to feelings of isolation and being disconnected from the real world and more worryingly real life humans. Social media can lead to FOMO, the fear of missing out, which in turn leads to feelings of isolation.
Clearly more time spent on socials means less time for real world interactions thus leading to a perpetual cycle of loneliness. The more time spent on social media the less people will get to know or understand you. Check your screen time, limit yourself and set goals to reduce it if you’re feeling isolated.
Social media is ideal for propaganda. The ability to influence an audience is easy using information that is, in some cases selective parts of the truth, in others simply lies or fake news. The idea of propaganda is to further an agenda, often political, to persuade or manipulate the audience. Whilst most is produced by humans there is a growing number of bots disseminating propaganda. Half of the lies aren’t even true!
As Winston Churchill once said “Don’t believe everything you read on the internet”. Before you’re convinced by something you’ve read, especially on social media, cross check it with other independent sources and make your own decisions. Bear in mind anyone with a phone can write pretty much anything they want on socials; think before believing.
Social media is a relatively new arena for humankind. We’re only now starting to learn or realise what a powerful effect it can make to a person’s life. Who would have guessed that an app could lead to someone taking their own life.
A handful of platforms connect so much of the world together. Lost family & friends have been reunited, romances & marriages started, people and brands risen to superstardom. We can feel closer to our favourite celebrities, sports heroes, feel involved with what’s going on around the world. Conversations on social platforms have led to so many positive things and most people do use it for good and positive reasons.
Unfortunately, like in life, there are also many negative aspects to social media. Words are incredibly powerful to us humans, and so much of social media revolves around words. As in real life we can hurt each other by not considering feelings, not thinking about how we say something, not caring about the effects our words may have. We like to live by the saying ‘Treat others as you would wish to be treated yourselves.’
We would ask you to take away these points and consider them next time you pick up your phone.
- Is there a partner, friend, family member who would prefer you to talk to them instead?
- Watch what you say, pick your words carefully, consider what the other person’s reaction would be if they were standing in front of you.
- Remember that social media is merely a front, a reflection of what that person wants the world to see and think about them.
- Don’t compare yourself to others, be comfortable in your own skin.
- Keep an eye on your usage; don’t waste your life wasting your life.
- It’s not just fake news out there, there’s a lot of fake people and profiles.
- Know the line between interested and obsessed.
- If you haven’t got something positive to say, think carefully before typing.
- Set your privacy settings on your phone and apps.
- Consider the effects of social media on your mental health and others.
- Look after each other.
- Be open minded about people who have different colour skin, gender or ethnicity – we’re all made of the same flesh and bone on the inside.
- Spend more time talking to your friends and family than scrolling through your phone.
- Don’t believe what you read just because it’s been typed onto a social media post.
- Stay #SocialWise