Imagine if you threw an open-invitation party at your house. Nearly everyone who showed up was ushered inside--even people you barely knew, even people you hadn’t seen for years. The more the merrier, right?
Well, that's how many of us acted in the early days of social media. We were excited to explore, connect, and share at this new party. Other than spam, we accepted friend and follower requests willy-nilly. The more the merrier!
However, just like a house party can turn into a rager, and then into an “OMG…Someone called the cops!” situation, over time our social networks have slowly evolved into a different type of party than what we may have originally envisioned.
All of these problems were compounded in the past year when, in the face of increased political/social unrest and pandemic panic, we saw the true face of many of our social media “party guests.” We learned some people don't share our morals and values, some are truly toxic, and some simply trigger us in a way unique to our own history.
So, clearly it's time to show some of these guests to the door. But how do you do that without shutting down the whole party? Because for many of us, parts of the party still provide substantial value.
The first thing I’d recommend doing is taking at least a few days to unplug from social media entirely and get centered. Think of it like climbing onto a high balcony and looking down on your house party to assess the full landscape.
After you’ve had a chance to assess the problem, it’s time to do some housecleaning.
When you return to social media, be on the lookout for people and information that sets you off. Don’t get too hung up on why or how to officially sever ties. For now, just go with your gut and mute, unfollow, or unsubscribe.
The goal here isn't to create a Disneyfied network consisting only of happy people who agree with you all the time (although that is your right, should you choose that path.) It's simply to turn off all the unhealthy noise—and only you can define what's unhealthy for you.
It really doesn’t matter what the reason is. It's your house, you get to make the rules. But I suggest you set up and start enforcing those rules right out of the gate your first day back on social media. See how it makes you feel. (You can always turn them back on later.)
If you want to keep the party going after the rabble rousers have been expelled, it may make sense to handpick some new folks to add to the mix.
Remember, social media is an environment you design, click by click, each day you interact with it. You made some choices (or lack of choices) that may have led to it getting out of control. You can make different choices to change it into something healthier.
Reshaping you social networks will be a slow evolution. But following these three steps--clarifying your intention, removing anything unwanted, and adding healthier connections and content--can lead to some radical changes over time, creating a party you'll be proud to host and eager to enjoy.
Photo courtesy of The Creative Exchange via Unplash
I’m a consultant, strategist, author, educator, and speaker with more than 30 years of professional experience. I’m passionately curious, fairly sassy, kinda dorky and seriously good at what I do.