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Why is safety on social media important?

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Safety is important as people can contact you via social media and gain access to your personal information through your social media page.  This issue multiplies if you use and are active on multiple platforms. Members of the public, who may see you in a work context have the potential to view your social media profile, whether it is through Instagram or Facebook. For the moment, I am putting LinkedIn aside as we tend to be more naturally careful and ‘professional’ on this App – or Is that just me? From these sites they can get information about yourself, your friends, your family and a whole range of intimate details about your life.

If you are in a client-facing role, you might want to consider whether you want members of the public to be able to view your profile. If you do not, look at the different privacy settings these social media platforms offer. For example, you may consider making a slight change to your name on your profile, instead of it being your first and last name, so it is less searchable or would only make sense to those who know you well.

If you want more information, I recommend having a look at the E-safety website https://www.esafety.gov.au/. There is lots of useful information on there about how to protect your safety on social media. Tips like keeping personal details such as your address, email address, phone number and birthdate off your social media pages.

Be careful how much information is in the photos or videos you share. For instance, could someone find out where you are if you are pictured at a well-known venue or someone’s house?  This I relevant when you are obviously signalling you’re away from home, or travelling.


What negative impact could social media have on your reputation or public image?

Something we should be mindful of is if members of the general public can access your profile, what about your employer or potential future employers? We need to remember that we leave a digital footprint when we use social media, that theoretically lasts…forever. Every meme you share, article you tag people in or comment you make can be viewed my others.  Be very mindful about what posts you share and comments you make.

Ask yourself, how would my employer react if they saw this? How would my family react if they saw this? Is it sending a message I’m proud to stand by for the longer term? 
I don’t want to discourage social media use, but I want to encourage mindful social media usage. For every post or comment you put up, ask yourself, “why am I putting this up?” . “How would others perceive this comment?”.  Could this be misinterpreted or later regretted?


What should we be aware of in terms of social media use and the workplace?

Social media has embedded itself into our society and that is not necessarily a bad thing. Organisations often have their own social media pages, that can be used in great ways to communicate with the organisation’s broader community.

However, we also need to be mindful of our relationship between social media and our workplace. For example, do you mention who you work for on your social media profile and therefore linking yourself with your employer directly? Do you allow all your work colleagues to follow you on social media, or are you more selective? Do you want all your work colleagues seeing details of your private life? If you are a manager, do you really need to be Facebook friends with your team? What problems could that possibly cause in the future, if you need to performance manage someone for example?  What other unintended consequences might you be sparking by being a bit loose on these boundaries?

How do you manage friend requests, private messaging groups, jokes, memes etc with work colleagues? Where is the right line? What if a work colleagues takes offence at something you post?  Or, if they get offended you don’t accept their friend request? Again, I encourage you to be mindful of your social media use and the nuanced balancing of interests and levels of self-disclosure that needs to be constantly managed in order to strike a balance you are happy to live with for the longer term.

Self-care in the world of social media

Let’s not be too negative or overly-cautionary, social media can have many positive impacts and outcomes. It can link isolated people together, it can help foster a sense of community and it can help us connect with loved ones far away. However, there are two aspects of self-care with social media I would like to explore more fully.

The first is usage. How much time are you spending on social media? Are you spending time on social media instead of engaging with your friends, partner or family? We have all seen those cartoons depicting humans as zombies, staring at their phones. Next time you are on the train or tram, look around at how many people are staring down on their phones? Granted they may not all be using social media but it still reflects the amount of screen time we are accessing our devices daily. The more we are absorbed with our technology, the less we are interacting with the world around us. Again, I’m not saying don’t use your devise or social media, but every time you go to pick up your devise, ask yourself “what am I looking for? What do I want to look at? Am I being rude to the people around me?” “What am I missing out on if I immerse myself in my online world when my real world is happening around me?”

The second aspect is our perception of reality with social media.  

There is now solid data backed up by research showing a direct link between increased incidence and severity of depression, anxiety and higher levels of social media use.  When we start comparing ourselves and our hum-drum lives to those of other people, it can become a quick down hill spiral to negative self-talk, self-belief and eventual depression. Whether it is friends from high school you are following, celebrities or social media, influencers, always bear in mind that any post they put up is a projection of the image they want you to see or believe to be true. It is not necessarily reality – in fact, it rarely is. The parent that put up a beautiful picture of their children with the hashtag blessed doesn’t also show the photo of the children having a tantrum, or fighting, or waking their parents up 5 times the night before or refusing to eat their lunch. The travel blogger with beautiful travel photos on Instagram doesn’t show the pictures of them jet-lagged, or standing in an endless queue at customs, or lost in some nasty part of some forgettable town, or working their regular job to be able to afford these supposedly glamorous holidays.  With influencers, photos are posed, they have lighting and they might be getting paid to endorse a product. It is often just be layers of fake.  We then erroneously compare our sad-and-sorry lives to these fake pretences and unsurprisingly think we are falling way short or worse, feel shameful of our ordinariness when ironically our lives are much more similar to the lives of those we aspire to, and even more ironically would represent an enviable contrast to many of the rich and famous who crave normality.

So what's the main message here...

So, let’s be clear, I am certainly not anti social media, as I said I think it can be a great platform for linking people together in powerful and life-enriching ways. However, I think we should practise mindful social media usage. Be conscious and aware of how much you’re using the different platforms, and what information you are consuming and posting. Self-monitor and be mindful of your own emotions and thought processes when you are on Facebook and Instagram and feel flat, depressed or anxious, then you might need to take a break.  Get more directly connected you’re your real life, real family, real environment as this is where life really happens.  This is where life really counts.  This is where you can make the biggest difference.


Marisa Parsons

Client Relationship Manager/ Principal Consultant, Psychologist MAPS

Converge International 

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