Top 3 Negative Social Media Behaviors – and how to recognize them

We live in a day and age where almost everyone has a smartphone, and many people are connected through some means of social media.

It can be a great tool through which to communicate with loved ones, friends, as well as providing a handy networking opportunity. Social media provides a fun and easy way to keep the people who are important to us, up to date with the latest happenings in our personal lives; regardless of the time and distance between everyone. In today’s information-centric environment, social media has the benefit of keeping everyone connected and informed about our latest vacation, birthday, or holiday get together.

Social media has truly taken the information domain by storm and revolutionized the way we communicate and interact with each other. Some statistics show that as of January 2019, there are 3.48 billion social media users. It is one of the most popular online actives, with over 79% of the U.S. population claiming to have some type of social media/networking profile. This means that at the beginning of the year, the United States had over almost 250 million social media users.

With the rapid rise and prolific use of social media, comes the shaping of behaviors, including how we manage our personal relationships. Just as people are staying connected and sharing information with one another, so more and more often, people have used social media as a vehicle to address personal conflict. The keyboard and screen provide a sense of distance and security when it comes to ‘people issues’. Social media has provided an all-to-convenient medium for those individuals who have a hard time engaging in healthy in-person communication or avoid resolving differences and disagreements face-to-face.

For those lacking a strong emotional center or positive self-image, social media provides a false sense of security through which they can engage in passive-aggressive or manipulative behaviors. Rather than invest in personal development and character growth, it’s easier for them to maneuver through the social media terrain in order to perpetuate their cycle of dysfunctional behavior.

There are entire fields of human behavior studies dedicated to the effect that social media has on our collective psyches, and there are a whole range of signs and symptoms which can help a person identify if there is a problem, but I’ll just hit up a few for now. Here’s a quick ‘Top 3’ list of negative social media behaviors which are telling signs of something much deeper going on.

#1 “Smoke and Mirrors”: Not everything in our lives needs to be shared in public. Discretion says that it’s best to keep some things to yourself, but if you absolutely feel the need to discuss the matter, at least do it with someone who can give you an honest, open, and mature opinion.

Needless to say, some people go on social media and simply allude to the fact that something is bothering them. This is a tactic used to get attention, rather than actually seek a genuine resolution to the problem – aka “Smoke and Mirrors. It’s a manipulative and immature way to seek support and only proves to aggravate one’s friends and family via their social media connections. Sometimes the “Smoke and Mirrors” offender will even post (what they believe are) clever memes or pictures, just to drive their point home. “Smoke and Mirrors” is a classic example of passive-aggressive behavior and shows a lack of healthy, developed communication skills.

Mature people, who have a strong sense of self-confidence, do not feel the need to ‘beat around the bush’ or talk around a problem. Instead, they bring the issue to light, discuss it with an open mind, and seek a positive outcome. A good rule of thumb is this: Got a problem or an issue with someone that needs to be resolved? Simply talk to them face-to-face. What if it’s a more complicated matter and you’re not sure how to handle it? Get some solid and sound advice from someone you respect, who is outside of the issue, will tell you what you need to hear not want to hearthen revisit the matter.

Bottom line: Quit using “Smoke and Mirrors” to tap-dance around an issue and stop hiding behind the keyboard. Social media isn’t meant to be a trashcan for half-canned whining or complaining.

#2 “WIMI” (Where Is My Invitation) syndrome: One of the great features of social media is the fact that we can share important dates and events with other people. We all like to share pictures from our latest group event. Pictures of concerts, sporting events, birthday parties, etc. We’ve all captured these special ‘moments in time’ and posted them on our social media network to share the latest event in our lives. Unfortunately, this comes an all too familiar unpleasantry.

Sometimes, within our social media spheres, there’s that one person who seems to browse and troll their friends and family’s posts just to cast shade and breathe a cold chill. Their comments seem to drain the color out of whatever fun or joy was felt during the event you just posted about. Rather than feel and express genuine happiness for the those who engaged in the social event, they make passive-aggressive statements like “Looks like everyone had fun, even if I wasn’t there” or a sarcasm laced “Must have been nice…thanks for the invite.” Comments like these come from a person who operates from a mentality of entitlement and self-subscribed victimhood. Instead of celebrating the moment, they decide to punish those who shared in the festivities by injecting a sense of guilt for not being invited.

For a person with “WIMI syndrome,” it’s not that they actually wanted to be a part of the event; instead, their response says that they feel entitled to an invite and slighted that other people could possibly have fun without them. “WIMI syndrome” is a manipulation tactic and mind game used to exert control within a group dynamic. It’s used to ensure that no one within the group dynamic will have a social gathering or event without first giving an obligatory invitation. A person with “WIMI syndrome” wants an invite, even if they don’t plan on attending in the first place. Interestingly, they will actively engage in the very behavior which they accuse other people of doing. They will even intentionally post pictures on social media of events, (to which they didn’t invite others) for the purposes of being exclusive, spiteful or invoking a sense of jealousy and or isolation in others.

#3 “Your post is about me”: Social media is a wonderful platform for people to share new ideas, concepts, or discuss life issues. There are countless quotes to help us improve how we think, behave, and live. From gentle daily inspirations to more hard-hitting sayings.

Often these quotes may come from a great military leader, a successful businessperson, a self-help book, a sports coach, a scripture verse, or even a conversation with a mentor. These nuggets of wisdom are little pieces of truth which serve to either inspire us to do better or teach us a valuable lesson. With the convenience of social media, these parables and teachings can be shared, at light-speed, with those in our circle of connections, as well as the entire world.

Most people embrace and share these inspirational sayings, but then there are some people who look at them through a different lens. These people will hunt and peck for reasons to believe that every positive affirmation meme or life-coaching statement is aimed at them. Not only do they feel that they are the target, but they think that the posts are somehow a way of conveying a message about them. This often caused by one or more of the following three things:

  1. They’re insecure, have a poor self-image, and are paranoid about the perceptions of others.
  2. They’re vain and believe that they occupy the majority of a person’s thought life.
  3. The words in the post are like a mirror…reflecting back something about themselves which they don’t like.

Self-reflection is a quality that a “Your post is about me” person often lacks. They don’t like it when someone in their social media circle posts something about life, character, or personal development. In fact, such topics make them uncomfortable. Rather than pause and ask themselves some self-reflective questions about why they feel that way, they get offended and retaliate. Often the retaliation will be through the very same means which they are accusing the other person of doing. Their social media pages are often filled with cheap pre-formatted ‘copy-and-paste’ pictures, memes or and gifs riddled with unoriginal and cliché ‘fortune-cookie-quality’ messages that only act as an echo chamber for their delusional, ridged, unteachable, and self-absorbed thinking.

Even though social media wasn’t invented during the time the Bible was written, there are principles in God’s Word which are timeless when it comes to the way we communicate with others, regardless of the medium and vehicle.

Jeremiah 17:9-19 (The Message translation)

Wow! That’s about as blunt as it gets. Our thoughts, intentions, and motives are always known to the Creator of the universe, no matter how hard we try to rationalize or heap layers of emotional camouflage on top.

Ephesians 4:29 (ESV).png

If there are negative, self-promoting feelings behind our actions, then those motives will be transparent to others. If we’re not trying to build someone up and be positive, then it’s best not to say anything at all.

Philippians 4:8 (GOD’S WORD translation) .png

This is a tough one. Notice how the course of action is placed on keeping our thoughts in the right place. It is from our thoughts that we derive our motives, and it is our motives which color and flavor our actions, no matter how “right” they may seem. We have to be very careful not to do the RIGHT THING for the WRONG REASONS.

Like I said at the beginning of this post, this is not an all-encompassing list of negative behaviors. As social media use expands, it becomes increasingly essential for us to be mindful of our actions.

What those behaviors are saying to others in our networks and social media links?

Is our electronic communication reflecting authenticity and genuine goodwill?

Are we engaging in a positive way?

What is our social media behavior saying the others about our character and inner self?

Just some food for thought…happy posting!

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