Social media is a lot of fun. You check in with friends, family and people you haven’t been in touch with for years. You reminisce, share funny videos and keep everyone updated on your life events.
Throughout the lifespan of social media, it has developed its own culture and customs. There are unspoken “expectations” that we all adhere to, just as in the “real world”. Social media has become an encapsulated universe of its own. And anytime there is a group of people in any given space (whether virtual or actual), there is going to be drama. We can’t help ourselves.
If you’ve been within 100 yards of social media lately, you’re sure to have seen examples of this drama as it plays out in real time. There are people who clearly go looking for drama by posting inflammatory status updates and instigating others, and then there are people who sort of just fall into it as an innocent bystander and get drawn in.
What is it about our screens that make us feel safe and protected?
Our screens seem to give us permission to throw virtual bombs at one another for sheer entertainment purposes.
We vent our frustrations about work, home and people. It is a free-for-all and we never know what we’ll see when we log on during any given day. Social media can seem like a free ticket to a one act play. The theme can be comedy, tragedy or drama.
As the norms of social media have emerged, the hilarity of these faux paus have established their own set of vocabulary. We’ve all heard of vaguebooking, in which someone posts a Facebook status that is vague and begs of others to ask more information. There are countless names for these behaviors, each funnier than the last because of the truths they hold. Nobody wants to be “that guy” on social media.
It is interesting that social media has opened up a new format for social awkwardness.
People who may not have otherwise had an opportunity to expose their inner Eeyore or cynical views about others suddenly have their own personal stage. It’s like writing in a public diary where you can share the depths of your soul, antagonize others, or show a picture of your sandwich.
Perhaps we never would have known that Andre, the typically quiet and reserved bookkeeper is a radical right-wing conservative. Maybe Chassidy from high school would have remained in your memory as a cheerleading captain rather than her present day, steady posting about how miserable her life is.
We become aware, almost too aware, of the minutia of other people’s lives.
Not only do we hold information about the people we live with on a daily basis and our close family and friends, and even some co-workers, now we have additional information about virtual strangers competing for brain space. With this much input, drama on social media can feel draining after a short time.
Managing Drama On Your Feed
While you may not be entirely immune to the effects of social media drama, there are some ways you can shield yourself from most of it.
Avoid obvious pitfalls:
If you skim by the vague bookers and the inflammatory posts about other people that you may or may not know, this will drastically decrease the drama in your feed. Try to have skimming-mindset when you review your social media. Don’t even try to reach each post.
If it becomes too exhausting to continuously filter your eyes over the dramatic posts, it may be worthwhile to temporarily hide that person from your feed for awhile. They won’t even know. It’s not as rejecting as “unfriending” someone, but it is a good step toward self-preservation.
Don’t let yourself be baited:
You’ve probably had this happen before. You post something. You didn’t even consider it to be offensive in any way. A “friend” responds to it with a snide comment or oddly defensive remark. You could engage in the drama and argue the validity of your post, if you really want to waste your time and energy that way.You could be disingenuous and click “like” just to irritate them further. Or, you could ignore their comment and move on with your life. They don’t get the satisfaction of having baited you, and you get to leave their comment for others to swoop in on. And they will.
Don not take it personally:
You know how it works; the screen offers a buffer and makes people feel free to let their alter-egos emerge. If someone tries to pull you into drama, look at it for what it is; a plea for attention and validation. You could let your ego get caught up in their issues and that would result in more stress for you. Not worth it.
Defy the drama:
Make a declaration against drama on your page. Who knows, you may even start a social media trend. Be the first of your friends to start a month-long campaign of only upbeat, positive posts and challenge others to do the same.
Learn to spot it quickly:
If it looks like drama, and smells like drama, it’s probably drama. Sometimes it can be dressed up in different costumes, but you’ll ultimately know it when you see it. Ask yourself “does this push any of my buttons?” “Is someone being slammed in this post?” and “if this were directed at me, would I be ok with it?” Don’t encourage the drama, since it could easily be you on the other end of public humiliation next time. We have enough pain and negativity in our lives without taking on the additional stressors of those on our social media sites. If social media is becoming a source of stress or discord in your life, maybe it is time to take a break from it. Sometimes distance from everyone else’s thoughts and feelings can help you get back in touch with your own.