I resolved to eat better and exercise more. I resolved to be a better husband, father and son. I resolved to read more, swear less, do more community service, and so on.
Over the years, I’ve made some great New Year’s resolutions. Some stuck, but many didn’t.
This year, my New Year’s resolution is to be a better social media user.
For someone who researches and writes about social media, you might think this would be an easy task, maybe even a cop-out (in fact, I probably should be eating better and exercising more).
But the truth is, we can all be better social media users. To be better with social media might mean learning a new social media skill, or maybe it means using less social media.
My social media resolution is a bit different, however. This year, I’ve resolved to be better by being a more “positive” social media user.
To be a positive social media user requires a few basic strategies.
Let your first post each day be a positive one.
You log on to Facebook first thing in the morning only to be greeted by a slew of political rants or nasty commentaries that make you angry. Rather than respond with your own perspective that perpetuates that negative social media spiral, post your own pro-social status update. Say something positive about someone in your life, post an uplifting image or video, or find an inspirational quote. It doesn’t mean that every post has to be positive and inspiring — just the first one.
Follow more positive people.
On Twitter, it’s easy to find people who use social media for pro-social reasons. Consider following people such as the @DalaiLama or alternative medicine guru @DeepakChopra for inspirational quotes and advice. Retweet and pass the positive messages on to others.
Encourage others to be positive social media users.
Positive posts are infectious. Without being condescending, you can embolden others to be upbeat by simply posting motivational words. For example, when I see a negative post about living in Youngstown, I now post an optimistic YouTube video about living here in an effort to refocus the conversation on the great aspects of our region.
Build stronger connections with social media followers.
Our lives are not mundane. Our lives are, at times, interesting and even entertaining. Posts that focus on our family and friends give others insight into our personal lives. These positive posts help us connect with others. Be open to these connections, build new networks, rekindle old friendships, and learn more about others. We are predisposed to want to know more about others, to have stronger connections to those around us — even if those around us are many miles away. Social media helps us cultivate those connections.
If you’re willing to join me in this resolution, let me know what you think. Have ideas on how to be a positive social media user? Do these strategies make sense? What advice would you give?
Send me a tweet at @adamearn or post a response here.
~ A version of this post appeared in the Sunday, December 28, 2014 edition of The Vindicator.
Dr. Adam C. Earnheardt is professor and chair of the department of communication at Youngstown State University in Youngstown, OH, USA. He researches and writes about communication and relationships, parenting and sports. He writes a weekly column for The Vindicator newspaper on social media and society.