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5 Ways to Thrive While Using Social Media

Unless you decide to live “off the grid” in the middle of nowhere, if you live in the. United States, internet and technology probably play a role in your life to at least some extent. Having constant access to information and people at your fingertips is both a blessing and a curse, but fortunately, people have more power over their media experiences than they think. Below, I have included five ways to enhance your internet experience and use social media intentionally to minimize the potential toxic effects these tools have.

#1 Streamline the content you’re seeing by using social media settings and doing some “spring cleaning.”

Fortunately, many social networking sites have provided settings to help prevent you being subjected to triggering, annoying or upsetting content. You can block and report other users on most sites, ask to see less of certain types of posts, and even block posts featuring certain words from showing up on your feed on sites like Twitter. If you take the time to recognize when certain people or posts are particularly upsetting to you, such as hate speech or body shaming, taking steps to reduce these kinds of content can do wonders for your mental health while using social media.

Of course, sometimes not all people need to be blocked or reported; there are some people that aren’t doing anything wrong that still might be draining for you to follow? That ex that got engaged, friend from middle school traveling the world or parent’s coworker trying to sell you diet pills? Feel free to unfollow these people without guilt, or see if the social networking sites you use have mute features so you can still politely follow them without seeing their posts. Also, while scrolling, try to go through each post asking if the person you’re following’s content resonates with you, or if they are just taking up more space on your feed. If the second option is the case, know that it’s ok to unfollow them as well.

#2 On the other hand, make sure you follow accounts that are inspiring or entertaining to you.

Enhancing your social media experience doesn’t have to stop at eliminating negative or mediocre content from your feed. It can also include making sure you incorporate more enjoyable accounts to your following list as well. Whether it’s meme pages, your favorite celebrities’ Instagrams, uplifting quotes, travel shots, or influencers who are actually relatable, try to create a feed for yourself that is like a vision board, one that supports you, keeps your goals at the front of your head, and inspires you to be your best self. For example, if you identify as female, here is Harper’s Bazaar’s picks for some awesome empowering accounts to follow.

#3 Make it a point to have “phone free” bonding time.

Maybe as a child you experienced a parent or friend’s parent collect your phone in a basket, encouraging you to interact with others with zero technological distractions. At the time it may have sounded like a boring and annoying idea, but according to the introduction of the book Reclaiming Conversation, “We have learned that even a silent phone inhibits conversations that matter. The very sight of a phone on the landscape leaves us feeling less connected to each other, less invested in each other.”

This information is all the more reason to go out of the way to leave phones out of your future quality times with loved ones. Whether it’s leaving your phone in the car when your family goes to see a movie, putting it in your purse when you’re on a date, or leaving it in a different room at a friends house, these habits can make all the difference when spending time with the people you care about, and can spark more meaningful conversations, especially if you encourage others to do the same.

#4 Practice mindful and/or physically engaging activities to balance out your time on social media.

As I mentioned in the beginning, it’s pretty difficult to avoid using social media these days. As a result, it’s extremely important to practice self-care and activities that can help separate you from technology to maintain your wellbeing. In an article about how to set boundaries with technology and overcome the distractions it causes, “Remedies for the Distracted Mind,” the authors Adam Gazzaley and Larry D. Rosen recommend doing activities such as exercising, being in nature, daydreaming and reading during technology breaks throughout the day.

#5 Finally, be authentic.

Just like when kids pretend to be people that they aren’t to fit in in high school, it isn’t a good feeling trying to keep up with a perfect, social media-ready version of yourself at all times. Try to recognize when you are frantically editing pictures, freaking out about the amount of likes you get, trying to appear happy online during times you are not, or caring more about how you capture cool experiences than how you live them, and remind yourself that there is just as much beauty to being yourself and authentic as there is to the little high you get from uploading the “perfect” post. It feels better when people are “liking” your genuine feelings and experiences than when they are liking a false reality you have created.

I hope these tips help you on the pursuit of happiness both on social media and off and that you make sure your own happiness is a priority when you post. Happy scrolling!

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Finding Seclusion in Social Media: How Private Do You Want to Be and How Private CAN You Be?

Between constant news stories about Facebook information leaks and seeing advertisements online right after posting about a product, worrying about internet privacy seems like it’s anything but paranoid. It’s often a tough call to make on whether to have a public account and get more likes or to have a private account and hold on to a bit more privacy, and even if you do everything you can to remain private, your information still might be getting stored and/or shared. It can seem difficult to have control over your privacy and who can see your posts, but one of the best things you can do is gain more knowledge about privacy features, how each social media site uses/protects your information, recent scandals, and the ethics related to this issue. In this post, I will be highlighting these topics and providing some useful resources where you can learn more!

First of all… should my account be public or private?

In the end, deciding whether to make your profiles public or private is a personal decisions that can have different purposes and outcomes for each individual person. Having a private account means that people have to request to be your friend or follow your before they have access to your content, while if your public, anyone can see your posts if they look up your account. There are many benefits for each, for example with a public account, more people may go to your pages and like and share your posts, it can help potential employers and friends find you easier (if that’s something you would want!) and it can help you grow a larger following more quickly. On the other hand, a private account lets you control who is seeing what you post, keeps you safer from potential predators, and you may not have to filter what you say online as much. To decide which is best for you, you need to figure out what you are planning on posting on your accounts and who you’re comfortable with seeing it.

Recently, some people have wanted the best of both worlds, so they have created multiple accounts. One account, a “rinsta,” is a main account, where people often share their best-edited photos that they would like their large collection of followers, or even the whole world, to see. These accounts contain people’s “nice” photos. Then some people also have “finstas” made for a smaller collection of people they are closer with. According to an article from The New York Times titled “The Secret Social Media Lives of Teenagers“, “Many teens use shortened versions of their names or aliases for finsta accounts, which they often see as an opportunity to share a less edited, less filtered version of their lives. They might spend a lot of time trying to capture the perfect Instagram photo for the “rinsta,” which reaches a wider general audience, while a finsta might reveal, as one high school sophomore girl declared, ‘my innermost thoughts.'” Having one account for the public eye or a wide audience and another more private account might be an option worth considering for you if you want a place to post whatever you want with less of a chance of repercussions.

Whether you’re private or public, social media sites are using your information.

Chapter 8 of Jeremy Lipschultz’s book Social Media Communication does a wonderful job highlighting the privacy policies of each of the top social media platforms. Here are lists based on the information from this chapter that highlight the policies of Twitter, Facebook and Instagram:

Twitter

Allows you to: Block people, have a private account, decided whether you have your location on your tweets or not

Things Twitter does: Collects general user data unless information is deleted or protected with privacy settings, tracks interactions with links, collects log data which is stored for up to ten days (deleting identifiers and turning it into data could take another week), holds data for 30 days after accounts are deleted (the process of deleting then can take up to a week) and interacts with third-party advertisers

Facebook

Allows you to: Have a private account, block people, create secret groups, deactivate your account

Things Facebook does: collects data through your friends, tracks user behavior, collects location data, public data can be used for third-party services and other non-Facebook groups

Oh yeah, and that huge scandal that happened: You have probably heard about it, but if you don’t know a lot about the Facebook and Cambridge Analytical scandal, the Vox article “The Facebook and Cambridge Analytics scandal, explained with a simple diagram” is a great first place to go to get a summary of it. Basically, the main point of the summary is, “Facebook exposed data on up to 87 million Facebook users to a researcher who worked at Cambridge Analytica, which worked for the Trump campaign.”

This really opened people’s eyes to how vulnerable their information truly is online, and according to The New York Time’s article “Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg Says He’ll Shift Focus to Users’ Privacy“, “Mark Zuckerberg “expressed his intentions to change the essential nature of social media. Instead of encouraging public posts, he said he would focus on private and encrypted communications, in which users message mostly smaller groups of people they know. Unlike publicly shared posts that are kept as users’ permanent records, the communications could also be deleted after a certain period of time.” Although this is a step in the right direction, it is important for users to keep this issue in mind and use good judgement when they post on, use and read through social media.

Instagram

Allow you to: Have a private account, block people, whether your photos also post to Facebook, if your posts have your location attached

Things Instagram does: allows other users to share your public content, uses cookies to track user data, shares data with other businesses

In conclusion…

Currently, there is a lot of debate about the ethics of the privacy, or lack of privacy on social media. Chapter 10 of Jeremy Lipschultz’s Social Media Communication explores a variety of perspectives, theories and ideas about this issue, but the bottom line is that there are limitations on the ethics of social media use. At the end of the chapter, Lipschultz writes “Social media ethics typically are applied as a set of professional guidelines. Formal law rarely governs them… There will continue to be tension between the practice of social media communication and the constraints desired by media organizations.” This means that although many people agree that people have a right to privacy, there’s a lot of conflict about how much people should have, how to go about protecting others, and how much responsibility social networking sites carry with this issue.

In the meantime, while debates on privacy continue, the website securityinabox.org’s article “Protect Yourself and Your Data When Using Social Networking Sites” advises to always ask these questions when using social media:

  • Who can access the information I am putting online?
  • Who controls and owns the information I put into a social networking site?
  • What information about me are my contacts passing on to other people?
  • Will my contacts mind if I share information about them with other people?
  • Do I trust everyone with whom I’m connected?

Keep these questions in mind, don’t be “too lazy” to read through social media site policies if you are concerned about privacy, and happy posting!

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Picking the Right Platform and Measurements for Your Social Media Campaign

It has become increasingly important for businesses to use social media to advertise their products and engage with consumers. This can be done through a variety of campaigns and strategies on a collection of social media platforms. As someone trying to promote a business, it’s already challenging enough to come up with advertisements and campaigns, but the challenge only increases when people must decide what social media platforms and measurements to use. Here, we will help break down this decision process and show the benefits of each analytical strategy.

What Platform is Best for My Business?

Not only do you have to decide how to measure the success of your campaigns, you must also know what social media platform(s) you’re going to use because each one comes with different tools. There are a variety of platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat, Tumblr, TikTok, etc., but most people would agree that the most popular options are Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. The first step to determining what platform(s) and tools are the best options for your business is coming up with some goals for what you want from your audience. Niel Patel’s article “The 5 Easy Steps To Measure Your Social Media Campaigns” explains, “You’ve probably also considered the audience you want to reach and the tools they’re using. So the next step is to think about what you want your audience to do with your content on these channels. Are you trying to get them to read, share, reply, click, purchase, engage?” Below, I will include Instagram, Twitter and Facebook’s different measurement tools and some examples of businesses using them.

Instagram

According to a BlueHost article, “How to Use Instagram Analytics to Grow Your Following“, Instagram provides ways to measure impressions, reach and engagement on a 7-day scale. You can also check how people are viewing your Instagram stories and see how successful your promotions are. You can also simply see your follower growth and how many people are liking and commenting on your posts by looking at numbers and notifications on the site. In addition to what Instagram provides, there are a variety of third-party applications that offer other measurements (for example, unfollowers).

One company Hootsuite article, “7 of the Best Social Media Campaigns (And What You Can Learn From Them)” highlighted was Starabucks when they released their Unicorn drinks. Starbucks was able to create something aesthetically pleasing that other coffee shops weren’t offering (the article mentions how they capitalized on scarcity), to attract people and create a sort of peer-pressure to buy the drink and post a picture of it. For products that have a lot of visual strengths, Instagram is the way to go because the app is focused on pictures unlike sites like Facebook and Twitter that are word-based.

Twitter

According to Social Media Examiner’s article “10 Metrics to Track for Social Media Success“, there are a variety of metrics available directly through Twitter at your business’ fingertips. The article says you can track follower growth, identify optimal times for engagement, track your post’s likes and reactions, look at audience demographics, determine your reach, look at replies and comments, find out what content is getting shared and examine click rates. Some of these are measured just by looking at followers and notifications, but many are measured in the Twitter Analytics section, which is Twitters collection of tools for understanding followers. The article also mentions that third-party applications and sites like Google Analytics can also help you measure your success using Twitter.

A Hootsuite article, “7 of the Best Social Media Campaigns (And What You Can Learn From Them)” mentions an IHOP campaign as a Twitter success story. IHOP presented to change to IHOB and had people guess what they were “becoming,” and it sparked a lot of conversation. This is a great example of good Twitter use because according to the article “Honestly, it’s a challenging time to be a person in the world—and the Internet can be a real bummer sometimes. Sometimes consumers just want to let go, and brands that can facilitate a little mindless fun may be rewarded for doing so.” This shows that Twitter might be best for more playful and light posts, especially when humor is involved.

Facebook

The Social Media Examiner’s article “10 Metrics to Track for Social Media Success” also explored Facebook’s measurement tools. The article explains that Facebook is able to track follower growth, figure out the best times for engagement, track likes and reactions, monitor mentions, look at audience demographics, determine your reach, look at replies and comments, see what content of yours is being shared and examine click rates. Similar to Twitter Analytics, Facebook has an”Insights” page where these tools can be found.

7 of the Best Social Media Campaigns (And What You Can Learn From Them)” has a few examples of successful Facebook use from businesses. For one, #RealBeauty campaign incorporated resources for women and an invitation to start a dialogue on self-esteem and body positivity, topics that are becoming increasingly relevant as more and more companies get called out for not being body positive. According to the article, “Dove, a global juggernaut owned by Unilever, has been creating powerful, engaging campaigns around self-esteem for years. It’s testament to the brand’s ability to make waves for positive change with a corporate commitment to doing so.” Facebook is a wonderful platform for businesses participating in a movement, because social-justice is a big topic on Facebook, and the platform is home to many charities, fundraisers and movements.

Whether you pick one social media platform to focus on or a combination of the three we highlighted, remember that each social media site has different tools and serve different purposes. Finding the strategy and platform or platforms that works best for you can require a lot of trial and error, so do not be afraid to experiment or recreate your plan from scratch if it is not as successful as you would like it to be. Thanks for reading and happy posting!

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How Twitter Clapbacks have Become the Latest form of Advertising

In today’s world of advertising, companies are constantly in search of the cheapest ways to make their brands the center of discussion. With the rise of social media and a growing investment in influencers, people are becoming increasingly creative in finding ways to create content that showcases their products online. Similarly to how television advertisers have found being entertaining is often more effective than being informative, companies are realizing their social media content will have the greatest shot of going “viral” if it makes people laugh and risks are taken. Businesses striving to have a funny social media presence is most noticeable on Twitter, where brands are beginning to gravitate towards the practice of “trolling” or giving “clapbacks” to gain social media popularity.

Some Terms to Know

Cambridge Dictionary defines a “clapback” as “a clever or funny answer to someone who has criticized or insulted you,” and Urban Dictionary defines “trolling” as “the deliberate act, (by a Troll – noun or adjective), of making random unsolicited and/or controversial comments on various internet forums with the intent to provoke an emotional knee jerk reaction from unsuspecting readers to engage in a fight or argument.”

Why is Twitter a Good Platform to Advertise On?

So what sets aside Twitter from other social media platforms for companies? One strength Twitter has is its user-friendly options for tracking social media progress. According to Jeremy Lipshultz’s book Social Media Communication, “The Twitter Analytics website allows a social media manager to download account data in monthly chunks.” This is helpful information to know, because any time companies try a different Twitter strategy, they can measure its success in many different ways.

Different Ways Companies Have Clapped Back on Social Media…

#1 Clapbacks Between Companies

Taken from “28 Brutally Honest Tweets from Companies Who Stopped Giving A Shit About Their Customer Complaints“, this exchange between Old Spice and Taco Bell gives publicity to both companies in a lighthearted way. It’s especially interesting because both companies sells such different products, and would probably never advertise together in something paid for and planned out, but Twitter gave them the perfect opportunity to work together.

#2 Companies Using Twitter to Make Political Statements

The article “11 Times Brands were the Greatest Trolls on Twitter in 2017” shows this example of Reebok speaking out after some degrading things President Donal Trump said. This “roast” could almost be considered a relative of Corporate Social Responsibility, or CSR, which Investopedia defines as, “a self-regulating business model that helps a company be socially accountable — to itself, its stakeholders, and the public. By practicing corporate social responsibility, also called corporate citizenship, companies can be conscious of the kind of impact they are having on all aspects of society including economic, social, and environmental.” This comeback to Donal Trump’s statements isn’t merely a roast, it’s also a way of showing that Reebok doesn’t agree with sexual harassment and that they are willing to speak out against it, making it both humorous and socially responsible advertising.

#3 Companies Responding to Customer Complaints

The article “10 Brands that Excel at the Art of the Comeback on Social Media” takes a look at Twitter responses to customers that aren’t your traditional customer service replies. Companies have been known to respond to both funny Tweets and serious Tweets in this way, which shows that the company is confident, funny and not hesitant to not take themselves too seriously, all things that a can be attractive to customers. Funny tweets also gain a lot of likes and retweets, which gives companies free publicity.

Are these Kinds of Tweets Effective?

Although these Tweets from companies may be funny, do they actually help companies? The article “28 Twitter Statistics All Marketers Need to Know in 2019” explores how effective Twitter is for businesses. One interesting statistic they shared was that ” 85% of SMB Twitter users say providing customer service there is important One of the top reasons businesses feel they need to be on Twitter is customer service. It’s almost de rigueur now to @ your airline about every twenty-minute flight delay.” Maybe this doesn’t mean that roasts are the customer service consumers are looking for, but it does mean that having a responsive presence is important.

The article also said that “Twitter ads are 11% more effective than TV ads during live events. More effective at “stimulating mental engagement,” to be precise. (And 9 percent better at memory encoding). This is according to a NeuroInsight study that also found people spend 4 percent more time on Twitter during a live event than they would normally.” This shows that advertisers are on the right track using Twitter to advertise, especially during live events, which is good because Tweets are definitely less expensive than booking Super Bowl commercials.

The next time you use Twitter, keep an eye out for companies that use the “clapback” tactic, and comment some examples you like below.


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5 Businesses I Love Following on Instagram and the Strategies they Use

In a society that’s utilizing social media more and more, our favorite people, brands and memes are right at our fingertips. Like a college bulletin board with too many club flyers, though, it can be hard for companies to stand out amongst the noise of other accounts to grab the attention of us consumers. As someone who is social media obsessed, I enjoy keeping up with different businesses on social media, but the ones I’ve followed for a long time have had to strategize to maintain the interest of both myself and other followers. Although there are many platforms businesses can use to advertise, the platform I use the most is Instagram, so I will mainly focus on advertising through this type of social media. Here are five businesses that I enjoy following on Instagram and the secrets behind their social media success.

#1 Blackbird Donuts


Blackbird Donuts is a Boston-based donut shop with a few locations including one in the Fenway area. I enjoy following their accounts because I enjoy looking at their different donut designs and I enjoy how connected they stay with the community. Blackbird is a local business, which makes developing a relationship with customers that much more important. Blackbird uses their social media to feature customers that come in and post pictures of their donuts, which is a great way to engage with customers. This allows the customer to feel important and recognized, and rewards people who feature them with a feature in return.

#2 Aerie

One example of how Aerie promotes body positivity and gives back to organizations that echo this sentiment.

Aerie is an underwear and comfortable clothing brand, and I enjoy following them to see what new clothes they have and because I enjoy their uplifting posts. Recently, Aerie has been gaining more and more recognition for their “body positive” branding, an angle that sets them apart from other underwear brands like Victoria’s Secret, a company that recently went under fire for plus-sized and transgender-exclusionary commentary. Aerie goes above and beyond just advertising empowerment and confidence, though, they also practice Corporate Social Responsibility, or CSR for short. According to Social Media Communication by Jeremy Harris Lipshultz, “…corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) asks companies to consider the effects of their businesses on social and environmental conditions… Clearly, social media engagement can be related to CSR by emphasizing social responsibility for individuals, groups and companies.” One way Aerie has practiced CSR is through their collaboration with NEDA, the National Eating Disorders Association. By challenging followers to post an unretouched swim photo in exchange for an donation from Aerie to NEDA, Aerie is encouraging engagement from customers, donations for a great cause, getting followers to advertise their mission, and putting an emphasis on the confidence and empowerment their company strives to achieve.

#3 The Grind

The Grind features positive feedback from customers on their social media and encourages their followers to also contribute.

The Grind is a family-owned coffee shop a town over from where I grew up. I enjoy following this account because I love eating there and it allows me to see what’s new with their business even while I’m away at school. In addition to being very involved in the community in person, The Grind has created a strong social media presence that truly represents the personality of their two locations. To capture the personalities of their customers and show the good feedback they receive, they sometimes post images of notes customers have left and good reviews that have been put online. Social Media Communication calls this Earned Exposure, which they define as “when customers ‘relay their positive experiences to others ‘via social media sites for reviews and ratings'”. By posting nice messages and online reviews, The Grind allows customers to feel that their opinions matter, while also giving examples of their success. To promote further engagement , they also asked their customers to comment or post pictures detailing why they enjoy The Grind as well with a hashtags they can use, which gives them an opportunity to continue showcasing positive feedback for their cafe.

#4 Bulletin Co.

Bulletin Co. recognizes and honors the views of their target customers by aligning with them in their social media posts and messages.

Bulletin Co. is a business in New York City that features female created brands and entrepreneurs. I enjoy this store because their product are unique and well-made, and I agree with the company’s values. The products and brands they carry center around feminist ideals, empowerment, and strong political stances. Bulletin Co. recognizes the beliefs and personalities of their customers, typically young, liberal, intersectional feminists, and incorporates these identities into both their store aesthetic and their social media. This is a good practice, because “How to Create a Social Media Marketing Strategy in 8 Easy Steps” asserts that “Knowing who your audience—and ideal customer—is and what they want to see on social is key to creating content that they will like, comment on, and share. It’s also critical if you want to turn social media followers into customers for your business.” An example of this is Bulletin Co. was aware that their customers and followers are most likely very against Donald Trump, into fashion and have a sense of humor, so they tied these qualities together to make a great decoration for their store and a great post for their social media. As you can see, their followers also prioritize staying informed on current events, so they used their own unique brand voice to discuss something going on in politics in their caption.

#5 Lit Boutique

Lit Boutique rewards their followers by entering people who engage with their accounts into giveaways from their store.

Lit Boutique is a both online and in-person store with locations in Boston. I enjoy their account because it has a great aesthetic and they strive to get their followers involved in their posts. To promote social media engagement, Lit Boutique does giveaways, especially on special occasions such as Valentine’s Day. For these giveaways, Lit Boutique gives their followers a series of steps to follow in order to be entered to win, such as liking the giveaway post, following their account, commenting what their Valentine’s Day plans are and tagging three of their friends. Each of these steps has its own unique way of promoting social media engagement, for example liking and commenting on the post increases traffic on their accounts, having people follow them helps them gain more followers and potential customers, and having people tag friends causes more people to see their content and consider following and/or shopping from them. I’m not sure how Lit Boutique plans when they do these giveaways or how they mix their giveaway posts with other types of posts, but “How to Create a Social Media Marketing Strategy in 8 Easy Steps” advises to use a content calendar which “lists the dates and times at which you will publish types of content on each channel.” They continue by saying it is a great resource because, “It’s the perfect place to plan all of your social media activities—from images and link sharing to blog posts and videos.” I wouldn’t be surprised if both Lit Boutique and the other businesses I have mentioned utilize a content calendar.

It’s been really interesting not only exploring the accounts I like, but also discovering the strategies they have used to catch my attention. Knowing how businesses grow and maintain a following is helpful both for following brands with awareness and intention, but also for learning how to utilize these strategies for your own work and social media platforms. Can you think of any brands you like to follow and what makes them successful? Feel free to comment below and thanks for reading!

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MEDIAGIRLS and The Body Project: Negative Body Image and the Two Organizations Emmanuel Students are Working with to Combat It

As a predominately female school, it’s no wonder that Emmanuel College is home to tons of badass women. With a tense political climate, light being shed on mental health issues, and some great female empowerment movements happening, EC students have jumped at opportunities to be more informed and help others in the process. One big priority for college students both here and across the country is battling the issue of negative body image.

What Parts of Social Media Teens Worry About

For some background, according to the CNN article “How girls use social media to build up, break down self-image”, “Children, Teens, Media, and Body Image,” a survey, found that teens (girls in particular) who use the internet worry about how others perceive them. Specifically, 35% worry about being tagged in unattractive photos, 27% worry abut how they look in posted photos and 22% felt bad about themselves if people ignored their posts. This really exemplifies the weight social media presence holds in the self esteem and perceived popularity teenagers have, especially on platforms that follow them home when their busy days are over.

Fitspiration Can do More Harm than Good

The problem doesn’t stop at teens feeling self-conscious about how they look as individuals. Many body image issues begin when teens start comparing themselves to others on social media, especially to fitspiration, aka fitness and body images that are supposed to inspire one to work out. An article from Insider, “Fitspiration is supposed to help people get healthy – but it’s backfiring in a major way“, revealed that “Earlier this year, one highly publicized study looked at a group of 276 women. It found that browsing Instagram for as little as 30 minutes a day was linked with higher levels of self-objectification… Looking at fitspiration in particular was linked to more body dissatisfaction.” Often, fitness influencers dedicate a large portion of their lives to exercise, are more naturally inclined to have certain body shapes, and edit their photos a lot, so having these unrealistic standards for girls can be very dangerous.

Speaking of dangerous, some social media posts can be so extreme that they promote eating disorders. According to the PBS article “Fighting social media ‘thinspiration’ with messages of self-acceptance“, “Type the terms “#thinspiration,” “#thinspo” or “#ana” into various social media networks, and a disturbing underground world comes into focus. Images of emaciated legs and protruding ribs are flanked by words like “starving for perfection” and drastic tips to drop weight.” This is completely unacceptable and can have deadly implications for young people, and even though social media platforms are working to eliminate this kind of content, a lot of work must also be done to teach teenagers that these images are not ones they should be glorifying.

Even Comparison to Everyday People Can be Damaging

Additionally, it’s not only online fitness gurus whose posts can adversely impact teens. According to the ScienceDaily article, “The good and bad health news about your exercise posts on social media“, “People are especially likely to feel concerned about their weight when they perceive their friends who post about physical activity as being very similar to themselves, said Rains, who co-authored the study with lead author and UA alumna Tricia Burke, a professor of communication studies at Texas State University.” This shows that comparisons that once only existed only in school hallways and gym classes has now extended into technology and is at the fingertips of impressionable teens 24/7. This means that parents, teachers and other caretakers must keep up-to-date with social media knowledge, as it begins to reflect the social environments at schools and can increase peer pressure to look a certain way.

How EC Students are Fighting this Trend

So now that we have some background on why body image is such a pressing issue for teens, especially girls, what are women at Emmanuel doing to help? A nonprofit that’s popular for interning amongst Emmanuel students is MEDIAGIRLS. According to their mission statement, MEDIAGIRLS is an organization that aims “to teach middle-school girls & young women to discover their self-worth, and harness the power of media for positive change.” They achieve this by holding workshops with middle school girls to share lessons on how to critically analyze the messages being shown to them, create empowering content, and value themselves for their inner values rather than for how they look. Many of the people who run these workshops, their mentor interns, are Emmanuel students majoring in areas like Psychology and Communications. MEDIAGIRLS also offers a social media internship, which I do, where interns post empowering content on the MEDIAGIRLS social media platforms one day a week. This has taught me to prioritize putting out posts that empower and inspire others not only for my internship, but also on my personal accounts.

Another way Emmanuel students are making strides in body positivity in the midst of negative media presences is through a new club at EC called The Body Project. According to the organization’s site, “the Body Project is a group-based intervention that provides a forum for women and girls to confront unrealistic beauty ideals and engages them in the development of healthy body image through verbal, written, and behavioral exercises.” A few Emmanuel students went through workshops to train them to lead our school’s chapter, and the first general member “Booster Shot” meeting was this week. Looking forward, they are providing a lot of events and collaborations with other clubs to help college girls unpack and overcome their body image problems. I’m really looking forward to seeing how this club will further transition Emmanuel’s girl power atmosphere and promote healthy self-image on our campus.

Looking Forward

Looking forward, I’m really excited about the work these groups are doing to raise confidence in teens and helping them realize media does not equal reality. In the future, I hope there are more male-oriented groups for this purpose because I think it would help combat toxic masculinity and because men suffer from negative body image issues too. According to a Spartan Newsroom article titled, “Male body-image pressure increases with influence from social media“, “A study published in Psychology of Men & Masculinity found that men who viewed images of other physically fit men tended to perceive themselves as less attractive, in worse shape, and weaker than the men who viewed neutral images of men.” This is concerning because I feel like the focus of body positivity usually fixates on women going against the standards men have set for them (which is valid), but at the same time men are also struggling under the burdens of media pressure. Forgetting them will not solve the body image problems for either gender, and I hope as empowering programs and content become increasingly present, both genders can learn how to appreciate themselves inside and out.

Uncategorized

A Look into what Social Media and FOMO are like for People with Social Anxiety

We’ve all been there…

You’re lying in bed an hour before plans with friends with no motivation to do anything but sleep. You almost cave into the temptation until a wave of fear kicks in, and a voice inside you head reminds you, “in a few hours, you’ll be sitting in bed scrolling through Instagram and Snapchat watching everyone have fun without you.” The little voice isn’t wrong; nothing makes you feel worse than sitting alone watching others have “the time of their lives” without you, even if it was your choice not to go. As a result, you peel yourself out of bed and embark on whatever adventure your friends have planned.

We all experience this, but other factors can make situations like this worse.

This is an experience almost everyone, especially millennials, can relate to, but how is it influenced when Social Anxiety come into play? According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, Social Anxiety is the “intense anxiety or fear of being judged, negatively evaluated, or rejected in a social or performance situation. People with social anxiety disorder may worry about acting or appearing visibly anxious (e.g., blushing, stumbling over words), or being viewed as stupid, awkward, or boring”.

This type of anxiety can make people struggling with it avoid social situations, but social media has changed the dynamic of this disorder. On one hand, social networking allows people suffering with this a way to communicate outside of face-to-face interaction, and allows them to plan out everything they say and their interactions more. For people who are socially anxious, this allows them to support their friends and share what they’re up to without the emotional labor of being out and about. One platform that is particularly successful in this is Snapchat. According to the study “Uses and gratifications of social networking sites for bridging and bonding social capital: A comparison of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat”,”Snapchat users are most likely to interact with others who are able to provide them with emotional support, advice for making important de- cisions, and whom they trust to help them solve their problems (Williams, 2006).” This one observation means on a broader scale that when using the right platforms in the right way, social media can be a key element in staying in touch with others without in-person connection.

The Relationship Between Social Anxiety and FOMO

On the other hand, social media can have an adverse impact on everyone, especially those dealing with Social Anxiety. One problem is that it can make people feel obliged to overextend themselves socially to be included in group events and posts. An NPR podcast, Why Social Media Isn’t Always Very Social, highlights the relationship between FOMO and social anxiety, with one speaker saying, “What we found out from a lot of the experiments that we ran, the thing that was generating the FOMO – it’s like a social anxiety. And it’s really more about what are your friends doing in building up their social group history that you’re missing out on?” Human relationships rely on shared experiences, so it’s no wonder that people aren’t keen on missing events and falling behind on their circle’s stories, gossip and inside jokes. We are constantly afraid we’ll miss events that will one day become defining moments in our group’s history, and having visuals of the fun we’re missing via social media only reinforces this concern. Feeling out-of-the-loop with the people we care about can lead to feelings of self-consciousness, one of the key traits of Social Anxiety.

The downfalls of social media do not stop at missing a few outings, either.

People’s lives are not always what they make them seem like on social media!

Social media can also cause people with Social Anxiety to further withdraw from face-to-face interaction and get stuck in the cycle of comparing themselves to others. According to a Facebook Newsroom article, “Hard Questions: Is Spending Time on Social Media Bad for Us?”, “A study from UC San Diego and Yale found that people who clicked on about four times as many links as the average person, or who liked twice as many posts, reported worse mental health than average in a survey. Though the causes aren’t clear, researchers hypothesize that reading about others online might lead to negative social comparison — and perhaps even more so than offline, since people’s posts are often more curated and flattering. Another theory is that the internet takes people away from social engagement in person.” Both a lack of practice socializing in person and fostering feelings of inferiority from looking at other’s lives could feasibly worsen symptoms of Social Anxiety, and even cause them in people who haven’t experienced this type of anxiety prior to social media.

What to do if you have Social Anxiety

Fortunately, with the increase in social media research and people using social networking to share their experiences, there is a growing collection of resources for those trying to enjoy social media while also attempting to overcome Social Anxiety. If you’re struggling with this, you can find scholarly articles and research to help you understand what’s going on both on your computer and in your mind. You can also find testimonies of others going through the same thing in both discussion groups and articles. One such article is on The Mighty and was written by a woman with social anxiety. Here, she shares not only her experiences, but also some advice for others with Social Anxiety, including keeping your friends list to a minimum and not reading comments on pictures or news articles. This is just one writer and one perspective, but with some searching you can find the advice and experiences that best resonate with you. Happy posting!

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The Pitfalls of Conflicting Social Media and Professional Identities

Some of us can recall watching the news and hearing about an elementary school teacher being fired for posting pictures drinking on social media. And who doesn’t feel a sense of joy when someone using racist, homophobic or otherwise hateful language on social media gets dismissed from work when it’s shown to their employers? Most relatable of all, how many of you have censored your social media content with current and future employers in mind, and witnessed the repercussions of not doing so through some less fortunate peers? And we all love the trick of covering up alcohol with Snapchat stickers on social media that some of our peers use. It’s no secret that social media allows users to present the versions of themselves that they like best, but does that always align with the version of themselves that employers will like?

How an Online Personality is Developed

How does one develop an online personality? According to Jeremy Lipschultz’s Social Media Communication: Concepts, Practices, Data, Law and Ethics, “Each of us has an online presence expressed by what we choose to share about others and ourselves,” (p. 40). This means that the impression others get from us is somewhat in our control, because we decide what people, events, ways we look, etc. to post for the world to see. This gives people a filtered glimpse of our character and priorities, but also gives them the opportunity to make judgements both in and against our favor.

Why Do Employers Care About your Social Media?

When it comes to employers, why do they check social media? Many jobs do social media screenings, especially if the job requires social media use, to get an idea of an applicant’s interests, personality, and most important, technology/social media skills and creativity. In the past, this used to be more of a low key practice, but now it’s becoming increasingly common for employers to ask prospective employees to include their social media handles on applications.

Employers also have a list of social media activity they don’t want to see. An article on Workpolis that explores stats on what employers want and don’t want to see on applicants’ social media sites (which can be found here) says behavior such as reference to illegal drug use, posts of a sexual nature, profanity, bad spelling or grammar, reference to guns and photos of alcohol consumption are turn offs to high percentages of employers. The last item is bad news for many young people, because a Facebook case study showed that parties are a common setting for the pictures college students post, and they often depict drinking, including underage alcohol consumption, blatantly (Look at Us: Collective Narcissism in College Student Facebook Photo Galleries p. 260).

You’re Still Not Safe Once You’re Hired

Even when you land your dream job, you still aren’t totally in the clear, and it’s not only your employers keeping an eye on your social media. In this day and age, if someone posts something controversial or just downright hateful, it can only take minutes before the post becomes viral and personal information about the person who posted, such as where they live and work, is shared by others for the world to see. Almost 100% of the time it’s good that the ignorance and hate of others is brought to light and has repercussions, but it’s mind-blowing how quickly online communities can gather and share information and change people’s lives. Some examples of celebrity versions of this situation can be found here.

All lighthearted PTA/Soccer Mom jokes aside, it turns out you seriously should always keep these sometimes frightening women in mind when you post, especially if you’re going into the education field. One CBS News article describes the story of a young teacher who was removed from their job when a student’s parent complained about photos on social media of them drinking on vacation. Maybe in this digital age with threats seeming to be around every corner, which is discussed in the article “With your Smartphone, Fear is Never Far Away,” parents are becoming too overprotective and critical of the adults in there children’s lives, but for the time being it’s best just to lean on the side of caution when posting.

At the end of the day, it’s best to consider every potential audience of your social media accounts, not just the boy that never texted you back or your friends from home cheering your every bad decision on. Before you post, make sure you’re cool with your friends, family AND future boss tuning in.

Sources:

Lipschultz, J. H. (2018). Social media communication: concepts, practices, data, law and ethics(2nd ed.). New York, NY: Routledge, an imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group.