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We’re all guilty of it—purposely posting misleading photos and statuses to portray a certain image of ourselves in the social media world.

With the rise of filters, photo apps and Photoshop, it’s hard to discriminate between what is real life and what’s intended to create a certain impression on Facebook or Instagram.

Social media has changed our world—for better and for worse. Never has it been so easy to keep in touch with family, friends and acquaintances without wasting a whole lot of time on the phone for an hour just to find out what they’ve been up to.

Instead, we can know everything about them in one click and a few minutes of scrolling—what and where they ate this weekend, who they spent time with, how they’re feeling, how big their kids are getting and even what their vacation plans may be for the holidays. “Just booked my trip to Hawaii! Mai Tais with Santa!” (Actual Facebook post from a friend of mine yesterday.)

Personally, as someone who lives 3000 miles away from my entire family and a large chunk of my childhood friends, I bow down to social media. I am able to keep in touch with everyone I’ve ever known through this revolutionary new world and I take full advantage of that.

But what bothers me is watching how completely paranoid, insecure and bat shit crazy some of my friends get over some of the social media games we’re all playing.

I watched a friend of mine obsess over one guy’s daily additions of new female friends. She managed to create an entire story in her head about what his motivations and intentions were behind this move: he’s a “flirt,” he’s “feeding his ego,” he’s playing mind games, he’s trying to make her jealous.

Truth be told, I’m pretty sure he was just accepting friend requests as they came in and not giving it a second thought.

I’ve watched other friends post cute selfies of themselves and then end up disappointed at the lack of “likes” they have gotten. Or worse yet, if someone in particular that they were hoping to impress with their cute selfie didn’t take the time to hit the “like” button.

Another friend was downright livid that someone she had a crush on was “liking” a bunch of other girl’s photos and status updates and ignoring hers.

Truth be told, it’s really sad to think about the effect social media has on all of us.

Social Media and Relationships.

I have actually lost count of how many relationships have broken up over discoveries on Facebook. The great thing about social media is you can instantly chat, message and post pictures of what you did last night in an instant.

The downside of social media: your chats, messages and photos of what you did last night can get you in a whole lot of trouble.

I have seven friends in the last two years alone, whose relationships ended because they discovered their spouses or partners were cheating on them through social media. Gone are the days where people would just sneak off to a hotel room and the only way of getting caught was if someone saw them.

Today, all you need to do is forget to log out of your account. Or have someone accidentally tag you in a picture with someone or somewhere you never told your spouse you were going to be. Or your location shows up on their phone when you’ve told them you are somewhere else.

Affairs are pretty much a lost cause these days with the internet. If you’re having an affair, most likely you’re going to get caught through social media.

Is What We See Real?

Yes, a lot of what we see and read about our friends and family on Facebook is very real. And beautiful. And heartwarming.

I love seeing pictures of my nieces and nephews running on the beach together with the seagulls following their laughter in the background. I smile and feel a part of birthday parties and weddings that I can’t be at when I scroll through an album a friend of mine posted of the event.

I laugh and often share with my own children videos of funny moments my friend’s post of their children doing something silly.

But don’t compare your life with someone else’s based on what you see them post.

We all have joyful and challenging moments in our lives. What we choose to share is often the good stuff. The stuff that makes us look good, that makes our lives look put together and exciting. The stuff that paints us in a good light.

We don’t know what’s going on behind closed doors—or open laptops.

We don’t know if someone is fighting depression.

If a marriage is crumbling. If someone’s child is being bullied at school.

If the girl you like actually likes the guy whose wall she just wrote on.

So, let’s stop making up stories based on what someone is doing on Facebook.

Instead what we can do is use Facebook for what it’s intended—keeping in touch with people we don’t often see, giving us something to do when we stand in line at the grocery store and brainstorming on the next great selfie we’re going to take.

It’s all in good fun—if we use it that way.

Relephant: 

Please Don’t Envy Me: The Facebook Status Everyone Should Read.

Author: Dina Strada

Assistant Editor: Hilda Carroll/Editor: Katarina Tavčar

Photo: Garry Knight/Flickr

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About dmstrada

Dina Strada is an L.A. based Event Planner, Author, and Certified Life Coach specializing in relationships and empowering women. She has most recently been featured as a Contributing Author in the powerful new book, "Simply Women: Stories from 30 Magnificent Women Who Have Risen Against the Odds".

Dina leads Empowerment Workshops that deep-dive into the topics she writes about. She walks her talk and inspires others through her willingness to be vulnerable, raw and real. A former featured author and top writer for elephant journal, her work has also appeared in multiple online publications including Huff Post, Thought Catalogue, Elite Daily, The Good Men Project, Chopra, Simply Women, Rebelle Society, Tiny Buddha and the Manifestation Station. Connect with Dina on her website or follow her on Facebook and Instagram.

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I must admit I am pretty new to social media. I don’t have a FaceBook or a Twitter account and as I am typing this article, I am seriously contemplating joining LinkedIn. In fact, before the birth of MiddleMe, I only have a tiny good old blog which is for my eyes only. I am what most people out there, called a social media recluse.

It is not that I have a fear of social media, quite reverse in fact, I have an in-depth knowledge and understanding of social media and the heights it could achieve. Marketing and advertising have taken a whole new meaning with start of the era of social media. Printed media are slowly a dying breed, many of which opting to jump right into the race by offering online subscriptions as well, hoping to stretch out their worth just a little longer. No longer do you need to bring your swanky new bag to work to show off when all you need to do is to take an Instagram and post online.

While I understand the power of social media, I couldn’t see then the benefits it brings me as a person. I am a private person and I don’t really want to shout out where I have been or what’s my lunch. The social media slowly creeped in two years ago when I opted to use WeChat to communicate with the folks back home when I was relocated to Shanghai. And now, to spread the word and awareness of MiddleMe as well as to reach out to folks who could benefit from this website, I quickly realised that no other platform could help me effectively bridge a gap between me and you.

Above is a great example when social media is used positively for career purposes. However, poor social media management can mean bad news too. Raise up your hands if you have heard or read about someone making a public blunder on the internet. I have come across so much incidents more than my fingers could count. So prevent making a FaceBook blunder, here are the list of things you should really avoid…

1. Inappropriate photos
You may wish to let the whole world (or your fanbase) to know how much you love your significant other but posting a profile photo of you smooching him or her, is really not appealing to your colleagues. You may want to keep the photos in a restricted view file only shared to your closest friends and not your whole company.

HR and hiring managers do sometimes google the candidate’s profile online especially if the job nature is sensitive or requires a lot of representation ie. Sales jobs. You do want them to have a good impression of you before they call you up for interview. Flaunting in a bikini in a drunken state on a profile photo does not really portray maturity and sophistication that they are looking for in their next manager.

2. Add everyone in your company
Its okay to whine to your friends once in a while on how much you don’t want to drag yourself off the bed today, how much you dread today’s meeting and how horrible your boss are for making you stay overtime for the 3rd time this week. Before you click the submit button, please try to remember if you have added your boss or your colleagues from 5 cubicles down in your FaceBook.

One of my ex-colleagues Francis (*not his real name) had commented on his Twitter on how boring the company dinner was last night and how he managed to ‘score’ with the new receptionist. Quote “Dinner sucks, man! Totally waste my time, lucky Jeanette* is here to entertain me.” To give him credit, he did checked that he did not add any of his bosses nor his colleagues however, his cousin who used to work in the same company as him and have the whole company as his followers, retweet his message.

You can assumed that Jeanette and Francis did not stayed very long in the company.

3. Censorship
If you couldn’t resist in adding everyone in your company including the 50 years old carpark attendant and the auntie selling laksa at your cafeteria, please at least think, omit and edit before you post anything. An important rule – if you are on medical leave, stay away from social media.

Adam* who was reporting to me had texted me on Monday morning that he is running a fever and is on the way to the doctor’s. I reassured him that we would cover his work and hand it up in time for the deadline and he should get as much rest as possible. Could you imagine my fury when I discovered through his FaceBook page that he is enjoying himself at Sentosa celebrating some chick’s birthday on the beach while the rest of us had take away dinners at 9.

Well, he did have to explain his sunburn to HR the next day.

4. Posting Company Stuff
It depends on your company’s policy. Unless you are the appointed marketing social media in charge, its common sense never to post pictures or comments on not yet launched products or services. I’m pretty sure that your company will not appreciate the free advertising. Some companies have this rule written in their employees handbook, be sure to read it up. It can be range from posting a photo of your new desk to bitching about the new intern assigned to you. Just make sure your ass is covered.

On another note, you will get haters for posting your salary or how much bonus you get this year. The next thing you know, you probably will get a call from your friendly HR.

5. Keep somethings private Private
Sure, you want to let the world knows you had salad for lunch yesterday, today and tomorrow. But if you are having a lovers’ tiff, do take it offline. You do not want the whole department to avoid you like plague the next day just because they read about how he forgotten your anniversary.

Quote from one of my colleague “Its so hard to look at my director in the eye in the morning when last night, his Facebook postings was about him regretting the divorce with his wife, how sorry he was caught cheating by her and how shit-faced drunk he is.”

6. Black & White
Remember whatever you post on social media even if it is private messaging, it is still black and white. There is such thing called screenshot even the person doesn’t retweet your message back. Be safe, not sorry. Anything you don’t want a 3rd party to know, its better to keep it face to face.

Also do be social media responsible and avoid making any insensitive remarks. You do not wish to be known as the girl who cracks insensitive racist jokes or be the one who posted a photo of yourself with a peace sign with a terrible car accident in the background. As much as you are entitled to your own opinions in your own network space, you probably will want to work amicably and be likeable with the diverse group of colleagues in your company who is a follower of your tweet.

Feeling there is too much to swallow? Do what a lot of folks are doing, keep a private and a public account. That way, you know whatever you are sharing are in safe eyes.

I believe there are plenty more blunders to avoid. Do you know any? If yes, please care to share using below comments or do drop me an email to share your views @ kally@middleme.net.

*Not their real names

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