Social media is a huge part of most teens’ lives, specifically Instagram and Snapchat. It sounds great–sharing your life with your friends and family through pictures, videos, and limited characters. While that may seem innocent and unharmful, this is the ideal situation. Realistically, you open Snapchat or Instagram and see your friends all hanging out without you. You see a party that you weren’t invited to. Or you post a photo with all your good friends except the one who wasn’t invited. Even though looking at these social media sites can be helpful, informational, and just enjoyable, it only takes one picture to ruin your day. We can all admit that our feelings can get hurt on Instagram and/or Snapchat, so what are we going to do about it? Ignore other’s feelings? Not post anything out of fear of excluding someone? No. There must be a balance of awareness and good judgment.
Before you post anything, put yourself in someone else’s shoes. Think about how you would feel if you saw this post or story, and how it would make you feel. Ask yourself these questions:
- Who are you (not) with?
- Is this something that needs to be posted?
- What are you saying in this post?
Who are you (not) with?
Who is with you at the moment? Who is in this picture or video? Before you post, pause and think about which people are included here. Is it your small group of friends? Is it a huge non-exclusive party, or is it just one other person? Stopping to think about the people in your post is important because it can give you the opportunity to see whose feelings will or will not be hurt. If it’s just one friend or your small group of friends, that’s usually not a big deal, whereas a bigger, exclusive group of people can be a bigger deal. It’s up to your discretion.
Is this something that needs to be posted?
After thinking about the people in or not in the post, you may want to consider if this post should even be posted. What is your reasoning behind posting this? It may be that you are celebrating a friend, or you had a great time at a retreat and want to share your experience. It could also be to bring someone down. If that’s the case, then you need to rethink your motives.
Another thing to think about is that when you are with your friends and family, you should be with them in the moment. Yes, it’s nice to have pictures to look back on, but you don’t want the memories from those pictures to be of you on your phone the entire time; find the balance of being present and making sure to document fun, important moments. When you are about to post something, stop to think about why you are posting it, if it’s necessary to share, or if it can stay a memory for yourself and friends.
What are you saying?
Think about why you want to post this and what you’re saying by posting this. Whether it’s a selfie of yourself, some new gift you got, or a group pic of you and your friends, you are saying something when you post. It may be that you have a lot of friends, or that you have money to get all of the latest new clothes or technology. You may even be saying that you’re better than others. Whatever you are saying, whether you’re aware or unaware, you must be careful about what your post relays to everyone. Before you post, think about what it is you are saying in this post and why.
Since we all have been hurt by others’ posts on Instagram, we should do something to stop the hurt instead of encourage it. There is a balance between awareness and good judgement. Before you hit the post button, remember to think about who is with and not with you, if this memory should be shared or kept to yourself and friends, and what message you are telling in the post.