I am 100% sure that you subscribed to this newsletter after finding it on social media. So many people gripe and complain about social media as if they haven't made the conscious decision to participate in it. Social media can be rough. Especially in this election season, trolls and vocal supporters of either party log on with a war mentality. Social media can many times feel like a battle field. It can also be a place where your interests can bloom and you can be inspired, if you work to make it that way.
I follow writers, educators and photographers on all social media platforms (except Facebook, that’s exclusively for shameless self-promotion because ew). I see work and I’m envious, and I think I want to do that. And then I do! I’m a sucker for comment-section drama just like anybody else (re: Taylor v. Kim), but literally what is my life if that’s all I see in the hours I’m staring at my phone each day. I admit that I spend a gross amount of time hunched over my device, but I refuse to be a passive consumer, and instead curate content that inspires me (more on that later).
Social media has the potential to be so valuable to all of us. Whether it's a way to network in a profession, a place to expand your own business, or even a place to connect with friends and family. Although we all may have those or similar intentions, I think most of us can admit that our timelines and newsfeed are just depressing garbage dumps of content no one cares about (including the pictures of your dog- just saying).
We certainly do not have total control over our environments. In an attempts to help you, and myself, identify a negative environment, I've recruited some of my favorite love-to-hates from Parks and Rec to help. Here are four people you may run into who should be given the boot from your social media.
Councilman Jamm will comment a seemingly innocent question on one of your posts, and then reply with a 5-paragraph argument refuting whatever it is you responded. Even if you know you're right, he'll talk circles around you because he has nothing better to do and thrives off the pleasure of digital arguments. He is L.I.V.I.N.G. for this year's election drama. He won't actually talk to you if you see him in real life (probably at Walmart), but his online personality is enough to make you scream into the night.
Joan Calamezzo is that person that you might know from high school who definitely had her glory days, but they are far behind her. She pops up on your newsfeed, and even though you don't really know her, her posts always make you mad. Why? What did she do to you? Probably nothing, but the things she says or shares makes you seriously question the state of the world. Her posts are the most useful for screen-shotting and sending to friends when you need some fresh tea. She brings you back to the gossip you swear you never were, so it's best to just let her go.
I am a firm believer that my sister and I are the real life versions of Jean Ralfio and Mona Lisa. These two are ALWAYS posting dog-filter snapchat videos on Facebook, Twitter, and everywhere else they don't belong. You can't help but cringe when you see they've posted, but you still read and watch every post. They're the worst kind of people who post a video but don't caption it, so you either have to watch it or wonder for hours what's so important that they have to say it in a video. Trust me- NO ONE is important enough to make you watch a video of them besides the president and Ellen Degeneres. They also used DubSmash long after it was socially acceptable (but was it ever???).
Perd is the guy who has a new post every time you log on, and none of them make any sense. You spend more time than you'd care to admit deciphering his words as you log on before going to bed, only to admit defeat and lay awake in frustration of your inability to understand what he was trying to say. Trust me, it was probably nothing worth reading. Click unfollow and GET SOME SLEEP IT'S VERY IMPORTANT.
It's not enough, though, to identify the bad. Identifying a problem is not fixing it. To fix it, you need to remove the negative and replace it with a positive. Add people to your timeline who make you laugh like Andy, inspire your inner entrepreneur like Tom, make you feel fierce like Donna, and encourage you like Leslie.
My timeline is filled with work by Anne T. Donahue, a Canadian writer who has seriously revolutionized the way I see freelancing, and work by Jonathan Grant, creative director at Culture Keeper, a website that explores the beauty of all things human through photography and writing. I also get great teaching advice from Kelly Gallagher who my 80 (?) year old education professor had the biggest crush on.
The people we follow online are much more prevalent in our daily lives than the people we would consider our close friends- that's just how it is. With that being said, we have a choice: let the worst of the worst influence our interests and free time, or become active in creating a digital environment that is both encouraging and enjoyable. If we're already spending time on our screens, we might as well get something out of it.
p.s. Please @ me your fav Parks & Rec gifs bc I need more in my collection (@pizzaselfie)
p.p.s. Also if you still haven't watched Parks and Recreation then please what are you doing go watch it