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I saw the above image on Facebook this morning and it made me think about today’s topic. Honestly, I see this every single day on social media – whether it’s on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr – you name the website and I’m certain it’s on there somewhere. I’ve even seen it on Instagram with the person being discussed actually in the picture and yet someone thought it was about them.  To me, this is a real problem. Not just in social media, but in life in general. It makes me wonder how much must someone be included in another person’s life before that someone realize their worth in that other person’s life? Furthermore, it makes me wonder if they realize that their own self-worth is separate and independent of the other person.

This also reminds me of a certain manager who is in fear of losing her job regardless of her manager constantly reassuring her that she’s fine and that she is in no such danger. Every time she sees upper management leave my office – I’m Human Resources – she flies in to see if she’s in trouble. I’m always thrown off guard because nothing that was previously discussed in my meeting with upper management is ever about her. Her self-worth is wrapped up in what upper management thinks about her instead of what she has done to make her department and her associates better. She’s not alone in her thought. If I’m on the sales floor looking for one person, it makes at least twenty other people think I’m looking for them. It also makes those twenty other people wonder if they are in trouble despite me asking for one specific associate (which, by the way, is generally never in trouble). I could be out there buying snacks or going to lunch and still people believe I’m out there for them and they must be in trouble.

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Because much of social media is written and not spoken, people rely on their interpretation of the content. Even when I’m writing on my blog, I’m always cognizant of the reader and their interpretation of the message I’m intending to give. However, I’m also aware of my personal desire to be truthful no matter what. So I will say this: if the shoe fits, wear it. Own it if your personality is such that must know if a comment is about you or not and if it causes you anxiety, learn ways to change it. The author of any comment or blog cannot and must not walk on eggshells with what they are writing because of the fear that their readers believe the author is talking exclusively about them. With regards to social media, it does nothing but stir up those fears and its corresponding emotions because one can always find an image or a like-minded person to agree with them – no matter how accurate or inaccurate. Unfortunately, people who read those comments and see the image(s) attached to it have the ability to make it about them just because they have one thing in common with the one word/sentence/paragraph they read. For example, I could write the following sentence about myself and others would think it’s about them: “This 34 year old woman has an awesome smile even with parsley in her teeth.”  If I had wrote that on a forum such as Facebook, it could possibly make a few people run to the restroom to check their teeth.

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Perhaps the concept is all wrong. Perhaps reliance on social media happened when a computer and distance became a way of allowing people to be honest with themselves and others without the fear of face-to-face rejection.But now, words on a screen becomes the fuel that enrages the mere spark of discontent between two (or a few) people. People begin to talk around things, opting to post their feelings on screen instead of discussing it directly with the individual with whom they are upset. That’s how people start to give credence to words on a screen instead of person-to-person conversations. Our personal relationships are starting to shift to acquaintances all because we all have allowed social media to be the way we communicate the honest, unadulterated truth instead of the way we keep up with the fun times in another person’s life. That’s sad because it speaks more about how the relationship really versus how it is thought to be between the two individuals.

Have you ever considered your relationships in relation to your life on social media? Do your friends have a legitimate cause to feel nervous each time you post something? Do you genuinely communicate with the people in your life enough for them not to cringe each time you post something? Do you believe that others know that what you post does not necessarily pertain to them and that if it does, they are confident enough to know you have/will discuss it with them? Basically, the people in your life should not have to message you shortly after you post something to confirm that it was not about them because they should be confident that you’d tell them personally instead of on social media.

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Until next time, make the above quote the rule in your relationships and on social media. Encourage your friends to apply the quote to their lives but also consider changing the wording to read:

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Adapt the revamped quote to your life and see if it changes the relationships in your life in a more positive way. The last thing anyone wants is the fear of not honestly knowing the status of their relationship with you and wondering if every negative status posted is about them.

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