Is it possible to have a healthy relationship with social media - Nikki Young

Is it possible to have a healthy relationship with social media?

Do you see social media as a positive thing?

Is it possible to have a healthy relationship with social media - Nikki Young

A recent discussion with friends got me thinking about my own relationship with social media. Some of these friends have come off it completely, but I’m not sure I could do that, or even if I would want to. What about you?

I know a lot of people who came off Facebook after the recent scandal. I guess it made many people step back and take a good look at their social media use and what it represents.

Some of these people are friends who used Facebook for personal use, others are bloggers and influencers who are so disillusioned with the whole idea, they just can’t bear it anymore.

So what is it that has put these people off social media, apart from the obvious sneakiness of Facebook?

Most social media platforms have gone from genuine sharing between friends and family to a world of influencers and advertisers. If you have a business account on Facebook, you’ll know how difficult it is to get your posts viewed by all your followers unless, of course, you pay for that privilege. This means, that both Facebook and Instagram are now full of sponsored posts and advertising aimed specifically at YOU. If you’ve been on the internet searching for something, you’re guaranteed to see advert after advert for related products popping up in your Facebook feed. That’s thanks to the Facebook pixel that tracks users and allows targeted advertising. If you think ‘they’re’ watching your every move, they are. It does feel rather creepy and invasive though, doesn’t it?

Facebook claims it wants to get back to what it originally started out to be. I’m not sure how they intend to do that though, given how massive a platform it now is.

On Instagram and Twitter, many measure their success by the number of ‘likes’ a post receives, or by how many followers they have. Some even pay for followers, likes and comments in order to make them look ‘popular’ and it’s this sort of behaviour that makes me understand why so many people don’t want to be in this kind of world any longer. It’s false, induces negativity, rather than positivity and is potentially damaging.

Instagram has recently announced, amid concerns of mental wellbeing, especially among younger users, they’re now trialling hidden likes – people won’t see how many likes you received, only you will. Will this make a difference? I don’t know.

What those with a negative opinion of Facebook and Instagram will tell you is that there is nothing genuine about these platforms, not any more.

Do you agree?

In my own experience, I’ve felt it necessary to have a social media platform because I am an author, and I would like people to know about my work. Equally, as a business owner, I understand that people buy from people, therefore it is important that I can, for want of a better phrase, ‘put myself out there’.

I also want to share knowledge and connect with other creatives and educators.

My work as a creative writing tutor for children has led me down the path of Educator. Through social media, I have connected with lots of other people who champion the same cause and this, to me, is a good thing.

I have never been hung up on the number of followers my accounts have. Nor have I concerned myself with the number of likes I receive for each post. It’s a good job too because I don’t get many! But what I do get, is now and again someone contacting me regarding my Storymakers Writing Club, for example, and saying how much they love what I am doing and this, to me, is worth more than anything else.

I have also made genuine friends on social media. A few years ago, I met a bunch of writer mums, who all blogged and who were all working on novels. It was back in the day when we blogged because we wanted to connect with like-minded people and share our ups and downs as both mums and writers. And do you know what, that’s exactly what we did!

Discussing our relationship with social media - Nikki Young

This is a few of us on a recent meet-up in York

We weren’t influencers with thousands of followers and earning big money out of our blogs, we just had a passion for writing, and blogging was our chosen platform on which to share that passion. To this day, we are friends in real life, who meet a couple of times a year. Without social media, we would never have met, so I see that as a positive thing.

Social media is also about collaborations.

Not only can you get to know like-minded people, but you can also meet others with whom you can work with on some level and this has certainly been true for me. There are a lot of great people out there doing fantastic things to help encourage children to love writing. Some do a similar thing to me – teaching creative writing to children, encouraging them to love stories – but in different parts of the country. Others make products, such as workbooks, writing aids and imagination dice. All are mums in business, so we have that in common too. It is a journey we’re all on together and through our social media platforms, we’ve been able to encourage and support each other.

On Twitter, I have met a lot of writers and educators. I’ve collaborated with authors on book reviews, been invited to come to schools to conduct workshops and had others simply contact me to say thank you for my encouraging and motivating words.

It seems to me, social media is more about quality than quantity and I would rather have a few genuine people following me than thousands who don’t give two hoots about what I do and have only followed me so that I will follow them back.

I won’t be coming off social media any time soon.

I’m on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter as Nikki Young Writer and on Facebook and Instagram as Storymakers Writing Club. One focuses more on my work as a writer and author, whilst the other is a platform for my business as a creative writing tutor. Both, I feel, are necessary for the work I do as they help me reach out to people.

In a world where everything is online, I think it’s AS important, if not MORE, to have a social media presence in order to survive as a business. I think though, that having this slightly removed attitude towards it means it doesn’t get overly personal, and as long as I can keep it that way, my relationship with social media will be just fine.

What do you think? Are you someone who’s felt the need to step back from Facebook? If so, what prompted you to do this? Are you someone who thinks this is all a big concern over nothing? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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