Think about it—at the touch of a button on your phone or keyboard you can check up on a cousin who lives across the country. You can send a message or comment on a picture of a best friend who you haven't seen in years. You can promote your business or support someone else's. Because of social media we're connected more so now than we have ever been in the history of humanity.
And because of how connected we are, it's often having adverse effects. We're losing touch with real relationships, social cues and etiquette, and sometimes even a conscience.
With 835ish friends on your friends' list, it's easy to "unfriend" as soon as you see something that offends you or have a beef with someone who posts way too many selfies. And sometimes, "unfriending" is a healthy way to distance yourself from people who don't add much positivity to your life.
But it has become too easy—with just the touch of a button—to get rid of people.
Here are 5 tips to nurture relationships in a positive way on social media without falling into any traps.
Remember: who people are online is just a mask of who they truly are in reality
Everyone has struggles and joys and experiences similar to you, and the things they post on social media aren't a mirror image of what they're really going through. Don't form jealousy or anger towards people who put their best face on for Facebook, and don't take everything at face value.
1. Before you comment or write something out of anger, frustration, or disgust—think about it. Would you say that same thing to their face?
It's easier to hurt someone's feelings while you're at your computer because you can't see their eyes or their smile—and they don't seem as real. Remember before you do anything online that these are real people you're dealing with. The repercussions of what you say or do online will be the same as if you said it to their face.
2. Reach out to the people in your life in other ways, not just on social media. Don't make your relationships strictly Facebook-based.
Call your mom. Visit your friend. Send your grandma a card in the mail. Don't allow yourself to forget what it means to take time for others and invest in those you care about.
Don't be that person who always has something to say or fight about. Realize that people have different faiths, different lifestyles, and different political opinions. If you can't say something nice…. well, you know the rest of that saying.
5. Before you "unfriend" someone, think about it
Is this a relationship you're okay with leaving? Have you tried to make amends? Is unfriending this person just a message you're trying to send, or something you're doing out of necessity?
To some people, none of this matters. And to tell the truth, it shouldn't matter as much as it does. But because of our attachment to social media, it is a real problem that arises and has to be addressed when we pick up bad habits on social media that impacts how we act—and react—even in our real lives.
Relationships are the most important thing we'll gain and develop in our time here on earth. While it's easy to "friend" and "unfriend" more than ever before, we need to make extra sure that maintaining relationships are a priority to us, even outside of cyber space.
The names behind the screen are people who matter. They are people who have children and grandchildren. They are people who battle depression and problems with self-image. They are people who work and study and battle through life—just like you.