Whether the invention of social media has had a positive or a negative effect on society is an argument that has been around since the dawn of, well, social media. This argument will continue to rage on – possibly forever – because simply put, social media isn’t good or bad. It’s both. Social media isn’t wholly good or evil; it’s just a platform. And while the companies who run these platforms can have positive or negative agendas internally, ultimately social media is what we – the users – make it.
I started Hyped – my social media agency – almost 4 years ago, which in the scheme of things is not a long time, but back then social media was still this really new industry, and no one really knew what they were doing. And truth be told, we still don’t. Yes, algorithm’s have been refined, brands now look to it as a solid marketing strategy, and individual users have a better grasp of online etiquette. But still, on the whole, as a society we don’t know what we’re doing on social media. It’s still such a new industry, and we have no idea the long term effects it might be having on us.
You might think that by running a social media agency I have rose-tinted glasses placed firmly over my eyes, but I grew up as a teen during the very early years of social media, so even before I chose this as my career path I had an acute understanding of how social media wasn’t always sunshine and roses. It’s for that reason that my main purpose of Hyped is to teach others how to have a positive experience online. So, how?
1. KonMari your social media
I’m a firm believer of the KonMari method – created by superstar organiser Marie Kondo as a method of organising domestic households – both in my personal and professional life. If you aren’t familiar with the method, it’s essentially picking up every single item in a category or room, holding it to your heart and asking yourself if it “sparks joy”. If it sparks joy, then the item stays and stays with meaning. If it doesn’t spark joy, we say thank you for how it has served us so far, and then say goodbye.
If this seems a little airy-fairy to you, then we’re on the same page, but whimsical or not, this is a very effective method of decluttering your entire life, including your social media. The easiest way to get started is to go into your Instagram Following list and look properly at who you are following. Read every username, even go onto their pages if you need to, and honestly ask yourself if they spark joy. In this scenario, sparking joy does not need to mean innate happiness; in fact, some of the most valuable people you can follow are the ones who bring up difficult and often uncomfortable topics.
Rather, in this scenario, someone you follow could “spark joy” because they talk about body positivity, or remind you of your school years, or are a close family member. Something could also not spark joy because you find yourself comparing your body, looks, or life to theirs, or for any numerous reasons. If you find a family member, friend, or colleague is no longer “sparking joy”, you can always choose to mute their page to avoid social drama – no judgement.
Once you try this, you’ll start to get into the habit of doing it on all social platforms, and the algorithms will begin to adjust to what you’re indicating you like to see, and you’ll be delivered more content that aligns with what you value.
2. Actively avoid negativity
I’m not trying to insinuate you have a penchant for seeking out negativity; but if you’re finding yourself in a negative hole on the internet, it’s likely because of the actions you’ve been taking. Social media algorithms take cues from your actions to determine what content you like to see and what content you don’t like to see. It’s in their best interests commercially but also ethically to keep serving users content they have shown they like (although you can see why this can also be problematic).
Other cues they might use to determine this is whether you click into the content (e.g. articles), or whether you paused to read the caption or comments. The best way around this is to simply scroll straight past anything that doesn’t align with your values and not interact at all. However, if you find you can’t resist, or you want an immediate solution, all platforms have an option to report a piece of content as something you don’t want to see.
3. Become a positive force online
No, I’m not saying you have to become an influencer. But you know when you scroll on TikTok, and you see a video where the comments are all very mean? That is cyberbullying where everyone can see it. You don’t have to engage with negative commenters, but why not leave your own comment saying something nice? Show others what it means to create safe spaces online, and lead by example.
Our younger generations will grow up not knowing a world before social media, and that can mean a more connected, understanding, and open-minded future for us all, but it does also mean we have to foster that environment for them. There will always be great things about social media, and there will always be terrible things too, but if we can teach each other how to enjoy more of the good and less of the bad we’ll be able to pave the way for the kids too.
This is the same passion we bring to the work we do with our clients, where our number 1 priority is to ensure that their brands are part of that safe and positive environment on social media. We work with Kiwi businesses to create delicious content we then serve up on a platter to hungry customers.