Pet Peeves: Social Media Edition

I love social media. Sure, it has its downfalls – like face-to-face interactions overtaken by technology, anonymity that makes bullies feel brash, less personal privacy…the list could go on forever if we wanted it to. But social media also has a lot of great benefits, like connecting people from around the world, sharing stories and pictures, opening doors to what the rest of the world has to offer, and it gives us the ability to connect with our favorite companies and brands.

Many of my social media pet peeves arise from how people use social media.  Dozens of game requests bogging down my notifications, poor use of grammar and spelling, hashtags on Facebook (am I the only one bothered by this!?), redundant content…just some of the things that tend to grind my social media gears.

One such example: I have a friend or two who consistently and frequently post complaints about their jobs, their coworkers, everything and anything they have on their plate.  I get it – it always feels great to vent a little and let out some stress and frustration – but I personally don’t think that doing so on social media is the route to take.

Why you ask?

Well, for starters, you never know who could stumble across one of your heat-of-the-moment grumblings.  What if it was a coworker you had complained about? Or your boss? A future employer?  Are those really the messages you want to send to the people in your life? Is that really the professional identity you want to establish on the Internet?  If we’re being honest, I know I get incredibly annoyed by friends whose complaints constantly pepper my various news feeds – I get it, no one wants to have to work, but if you’re blessed enough to have a  job in the current economy, recognize that while you may not have the job of your dreams, you have something giving you income and experience.  Unless you’ve just won the lottery and are set for life, no one should stick their nose up at either of these!

My advice for unhappy employees:

Take a few deep breaths or head outside for a walk.  Afterwards, ask yourself whether what was bothering you is worth complaining about.  Chances are, it probably isn’t.

Find a body to vent to; your friend, your roommate, your mom, your dog, anyone who you can trust not to broadcast what you’re saying.

Get a journal – not a blog – a real, paper journal and vent there.  Then go back a few days later and read what you wrote. You’ll probably realize that whatever was frustrating you was pretty insignificant in the scheme of things.

Consider addressing your discontent – rationally and calmly – with the people directly involved, whoever they may be.  Communicate!! After all, they might not know that they’re causing you stress.

And, if you find you’re still unhappy…it might be time to search for a new job.

What social media habits drive you crazy and momentarily make you want to cancel your accounts and go off the grid? Let me know what your social media pet peeves are!

Examining Social Media in Organizations

My last semester of graduate school has arrived! Despite my excitement about this forthcoming accomplishment, this last hurdle to freedom means that I have to write my capstone – I shudder when I remember the frantic feeling that was present when I wrote my undergraduate thesis.  I sat down a few weeks ago to hash out ideas for my capstone; what topic was I going to want to examine, study, and write about for four months?  I’ve always been really intrigued by social media – its uses, applications, culture, all of it. Over the course of my MS program, I’ve become really interested in organizational communication. Ta-da! I had found a basis for my topic: social media use in social movements.  Now I was left to whittle down to a more detailed topic and figure out what methods I wanted to use while exploring my topic.  A few cups of coffee and a slice of cheesecake later and I had my plan, complete with a title.

The Digital Wave: How Social Movements Take Flight on Social Media

The title is pretty self-explanatory, but I want to examine how specific social movements use social media to manage their identity and accomplish their goals.  Do social movements use social media effectively? Are social movement’s able to accomplish their desired goals and outcomes by using social media? Do they post in conjunction with ‘on the ground’ efforts or on social media alone? Do they monitor their own posts and the posting of their friends to ensure “accuracy” in the eyes of readers?

To answer all of these questions, I decided to use both quantitative and qualitative methods to collect data.  I will be conducting interviews with volunteers. I will also be distributing a survey to gather answers to questions regarding social media use in social movements.  My goals are really to dive into the topic and examine it under a lens of interpersonal communication and network theory.  I want to see how individuals that are a part of social movements use and prohibit social media compared to their personal life and compared to individuals that are a part of different social movements.  I’m curious as to whether it varies industry to industry (i.e. are some industries more prone to have activists on social media), and I hope to find out how an individual’s social media activism might shape the movement, as well as the success of the movement.

So, it’s time to hit the ground – and the library – running!

Social Media Goals: I Didn’t Even Know I Had Any

Over the last few years I’ve given a lot of thought to how I want my social media profiles to look and what message I want them to convey, on both a personal and professional level.  I want profiles to be inspirational, entertaining, and representative of my personality and myself.  Alternately, on a professional level I want my profiles to convey my skills, work ethic, creativity, and motivation.  Ideally I’d like my personal and professional goals to be accomplished on separate profiles; Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are all profiles I want to keep personal, whereas LinkedIn is ideal for helping me launch my professional development.  Realistically I know that rarely is any situation black and white; I expect that future employers might search for my Facebook to gauge who I am and how I might represent myself as a brand representative on my personal social media profiles.

My social media goals are to maintain social media profiles that are representative of my personal self and my professional self without becoming unbalanced in favor of one self or the other.  I want to be able to have a potential employer to look at my personal profiles and see not only who I am as a person, but who I am as an employee.  I think personality can play a lot into whether an individual fits into a certain firm; if a firm is very serious and buttoned up, someone exuberant and creative might not feel comfortable on a daily basis.  To achieve this, I’ll need a plan. What social media platforms will I use?  Facebook, LinkedIn, and my blog quickly come to mind as bi-purpose platforms.  Twitter, perhaps?  I find this particular platform less open to use as a dual role platform; my general feeling is that a Twitter account is either personal – and contains jokes or comments potentially not suited for work and potential employers – or used professionally as a vehicle for advertising, or to reference industry relevant news and articles.  Pinterest, Instagram, Vine? There’s potential there, although again, my sense is that these platforms may be harder to use to represent two separate, yet intertwined, identities.

There are dozens of other social media platforms out there; if I got creative I might be able to find a way to use each of them for both personal and professional aspirations.  I’m very interested in pursuing a career in either marketing or conflict management for organizations.  I know that any career in marketing will deal heavily in social media and digital advertising, given recent evolution of the marketing industry as part of the digital age; it’s probably about time I start exploring more social media platforms – learning about them, trying them out, and identifying their strengths and weaknesses.

My Online Identity

It was pretty interesting reviewing my social media walls, especially as I searched farther and farther in the past; my usage, habits, and shared identity have evolved pretty significantly. Out of all my current social media sites, I’ve used Facebook the longest. I used to post multiple times a day, typically about mundane daily events or articles I had come across.  Scrolling through my wall, I noticed a significant evolution in my Facebook habits about two years ago; I started posting less and less frequently as time went on.  My more recent posts were about bigger life events (although I still post and share articles or funny pictures) and less about how I’m feeling on a given day.  One thing that hasn’t really changed throughout my Facebook posts is that they typically don’t reveal anything overly personal; I don’t post ‘woe is me’ statuses or super negative statuses.  I always avoid sharing a post when a family member dies, or I experience a life roadblock, rather I try to focus on positive life events – things that I think are worth sharing.  I don’t want all of my Facebook friends to know when I’m going through a rough time because I feel like that’s what my close friends and family are for.

Looking at my other social media pages, I would say I have similar habits but there has been less of an evolution in my habits on these other sites.  On Twitter I’ve always had a ‘day in the life’ kind of posting habit; I tweet quick tidbits about what I’m thinking, where I am, or what I’m doing.  I don’t share many articles or websites on Twitter, instead using the platform as more of a soundboard for where I’m at in my day/life.  Looking through my Instagram and blog were probably the most interesting (a majority of my blog posts are pictures) because the posts on each platform revealed some themes.  Many of my Instagram photos are of nature/food/random weird things/my surroundings; I have very few ‘selfies’ because I prefer to document what’s around me. It got me thinking. I think the biggest reason I avoid ‘selfies’ is because I get to see myself every day; I get to see amazing sights or a delicious new food not as often.  Sharing my surroundings also gives my family and friends a more realistic picture of what I’m up to.  My blog had a slightly different theme.  Like Instagram, it contains many pictures of nature because I love to travel, but it also contains quotes and pictures that evoke emotion or make me think twice.  Overall I would say that I’ve used my blog as a hybrid means of self-development and inspiration.

In thinking about each my social media platforms, it seems that most of my postings convey who I am and who I want to be as a person; they convey my values, things I like to do, and my personality.  Comments on certain posts mean a lot to me, whereas comments on other posts are nice but mean less.  For example, if I post about a personal accomplishment or an interesting article, comments from my friends or family help reaffirm my success, my ability to overcome something, or the relevancy of things I find interesting.

In reviewing my social media postings, I think the main reason I post and share on these platforms is to connect with people I normally wouldn’t be able to connect with – family far away, friends back home, etc.  These platforms offer me a way to stay in touch and maintain a relationship similar to one I would have with them in person.  For example, now I might share a webpage with my college roommate on Facebook because we live on opposite sides of the country.  If she and I were still roommates, I would probably tell her about the same webpage while we were both lounging around; the ability to share it online allows to maintain the relationship we had when we were in the same state.

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