Proceed with Caution – Character Creates Opportunity®: Thursday, March 21, 2019

There has been a great deal of discussion around the world recently over the benefits and challenges of our transparent, instant communications via social media. It is quite typical in the natural evolution of new technologies to have questions raised and some words of caution expressed. As we all remain actively engaged in our online social networks with no apparent indication of slowing down, there is the occasional need for a few reminders of the guardrails that can keep us out of harm’s way.

The world of marketing, current events, sports, and entertainment have all captured the trend and most of our information gathering is done online. The average person spends a significant amount of time on social media every day. Rather than pounding out the traditional hourly statistics (which do vary quite a bit), suffice to say our appetite for online activity is not going to slow down any time soon. 

As we continue on our journey to build and strengthen our character, our online activities, specifically our activities via social media, need to proceed with caution to ensure we remain connected and safe with those we care about most.

With 2+ billion people being relatively active on social media every day around the world, there is huge leverage to being connected in order to remain relevant, timely, and current on the events in our world, neighborhoods, and family and friends. The instantaneous sharing of information is a great draw for efficient learning and growth. However, researchers would say there are also a few reminders that are needed to ensure we don’t slip off the road and end up in the ditch with some poor social media habits.

Below are a few guardrails to help us proceed with caution and continue to enjoy the benefits of our connected world:

  • Everything is Perfect.

Most updates we see from family, friends, and those in our community are positive and upbeat. We love to share some great family events, a night out on the town, some wonderful celebration with friends, etc. It is important that we don’t get caught up playing the comparison game and in some personal moment of feeling down, add fuel to the fire by perhaps thinking our life is not as fun, cool, and satisfying as everyone else.

Very few people post a nice video update of the time they lost their temper, slammed a door, and said something they regretted. However, we all still do those things even though they don’t make our social media feed. It is important that we remain grounded in the fact that we only see a certain side of life online and we should avoid playing the comparison game in our heads.

  • Scrolling with Anger.

When we have the occasional disagreement or fallout with a friend or family member, it can be tempting to spend time alone scrolling over some activity to continue to stir the pot on our frustration. In the quiet of our scrolling, we can run the risk of getting into a negative place with our thoughts of others. It would not be a healthy choice to swirl in anger online. We would be wise to just simply cancel a connection with someone or close down the feed and walk away. Nothing good comes from anger expressed on line.

  • Physical Presence.

With all the upside on staying connected online, there is a degree of empathy and the benefits of physical presence that are lost when most of our social interaction is done via social media. It is important we remember to get engaged face to face and touch those we care about most from time to time to keep life real and connected. There is a genuine risk that as our world becomes more connected online, we become more disconnected and we lose the critical benefits of face to face communication and physical touch that is needed to keep our close relationships healthy and secure. 

One additional note to keep us all a bit restrained and to ensure we proceed with caution with our online activity. Unlike generations before, our online personal activity stays around forever. Everyone has access to our activity if they want to search hard enough. Someone is always watching, and it can always be easily traced directly back to us. Proceed with caution.

As we continue to enjoy the benefits of our interconnected world online and we proceed with caution with a few solid guardrails, we will build and strengthen our character and Character Creates Opportunity to be a great example for those we care about most.