The Very Awesomeness of Social Media

We all have that special someone.

The one who makes you laugh, cry, shake your fist in anger.  The one in whose life you are not simply a bystander, but an active participant. The one who doesn’t hide their feelings or beliefs, no matter what. The one whose children’s accomplishments are celebrated with abandon. The one who always has a witty word, inspirational quote or amusing video available at a click of the mouse. The one who encourages you to ‘elf yourself’, crush candy or build a farm.

The one you haven’t seen or spoken to in roughly 23.5 years…

Let’s face it.  Social media – when used properly – can be great. I think it’s nice to connect with people I’ve known in a past life, or keep in touch with those whose lives have spun in a different direction.  It’s easy to interact with family who live at a distance, or those I’d normally only see at Weddings & Funerals. Honestly, I enjoy the benefits of having a relationship with a minimal expenditure of energy.

However…

Dealing with the nuisance-posters can be a challenge.  You know you have one.  They post photos of their dinner, with detailed descriptions. Every. Night.  They post a series of status updates on the progress of their toe-lint removal from start to finish.  They post how awesome they feel on the palezobiotic diet plan that has changed their life, and invite you to their page where you can buy the amazing kelp-fortified-acagojialgae-fairy-dust supplement at an introductory rate of $99.95 for a 10 day supply. They fill your inbox with invitations for every game available on the internet. THEY POST STATUS UPDATES AND MAKE COMMENTS WITH CAPS LOCK ON. EVERY. POST. WITHOUT. FAIL. They repeatedly repost doomsday-copyright-privacy-faux-legalese disclaimers without checking the validity – hoaxes exist!!! They post vague comments in hopes of eliciting equally vague yet encouraging responses.

That being said…

The group of most concern are the Over-Sharers. The ones who clearly did NOT get the memo that once it’s on the interwebs, you can’t get it back. You’d think the teenagers would be more inclined to make these mistakes, right? Nope. It’s adults. They post details of legal proceedings complete with bitter diatribes castigating the other parties involved. Drunken selfies with equally drunken friends whilst cavorting at clubs complete with check-in at said club AND the morning-after follow-up post on how useless they are at work?  Yup. Rants about how much they hate their job/coworkers/boss? Of course!!! Absolutely baffling. Perhaps the computer screen affords some people a sense of safety or detachment? That couldn’t be further from the truth.

So…

If you think you might be an over-sharer, stop it NOW, because unfortunately a little goes a very, very long way these days. The below suggestions are relevant for both adults and teens. Everyone is watching these days, from employers (current and potential) to colleges & universities. Privacy settings will only take you so far. Things go viral in the blink of an eye, so pay attention! 

Social Media Self-Preservation

Hashtags, Status Updates & Tweets

  • Angry? Cool down first.
  • Controversial Topic?  Think long and hard on how important it is to you in the long run.
  • Emotional Topic? Use caution. If it’s better discussed in the cozy warmth of a therapist’s office, shell out the $100 and do it there instead.
  • Hashtags, Friend or Foe? It may seem innocuous to insert that cute and funny little hashtag in your Facebook status update, but it may actually be trending. Want an example of a well-intentioned hashtag gone terribly wrong? Enter #McDStories in the google machine – definitely one of those things that ‘seemed like a good idea at the time’.
  • Dirty Laundry?  Keep it in the hamper.  Seriously.  Airing things out in a public forum rarely, if ever, goes well for the one posting.
  • Legal?  This should be a no-brainer. Broadcasting on Facebook what an a-hole your soon-to-be ex is while going through break-up is ill-advised. Rolling in Anthrax-laced powder would be a better idea. Why?  Because you are still friends with someone who knows them, or someone who knows someone who knows them, and it will be used against you.

Posting Photos

  • Missing any standard articles of clothing?  Don’t get caught with your pants down.
  • Wearing any item that wouldn’t normally be considered clothing? Don’t, because a raw meat gown didn’t work out too well for Lady Gaga, it won’t be any better for you.  Plus, steak is expensive.
  • Clothing on non-corresponding body parts? Don’t, because underwear should never be on your head.
  • Called out sick from work? Don’t, don’t, DO NOT post pictures from the party you ditched work to attend.  Putting raw bacon on your face to do a Hannibal Lecter impression whilst drinking your beer through a straw seems funny at the time, but your beleaguered boss probably won’t appreciate it.
  • On disability? Don’t post that photo of the new trick you learned in your recent Trapeze Fundamentals training session.

‘Liking’ & Sharing Status Updates, Photos, Memes & Pages

No bullet points necessary here.  Just a word of warning. That little ‘thumbs-up’, smiley, or heart you select is like a signature. Your name is now attached, so you’re essentially posting it on your own wall. The pages you follow are visible to everyone. If you share a link to an article discussing the benefits of ear candling, expect the possibility that the ‘related articles’ may include information on colonic enemas and rolfing. That meme with the angry baby spewing profanities? Yup, that too.  Others can also see if you ‘liked’ a comment someone else made on a public post.  It goes on and on.

Friends

The average Facebook user has 350-ish friends.  My vote?  Go for quality over quantity.  People will hijack your status updates, may post questionable material your wall, AND have the ability to ‘tag’ you in inappropriate posts that you wouldn’t want your 76 year old mother to see. Thin the herd. Nothing good can come of being ‘friends’ with someone who is not A Friend.

I guess what I’m trying to say…

Have a good time.  Enjoy social media for what it is.  Don’t get so bajiggity about comments you don’t agree with, topics you’re sensitive to, or people who behave like wing nuts.  Be smart – that photo/comment/status update is NOT worth losing your job/reputation/relationship over. Above all else, remember – once it’s out there, you can’t get it back!

 It must be true!

Perpetual Seasonal Affectation

The upshot of Seasonal Affective Disorder – some time in the fall, you will be struck with a depression that won’t lift until some time in the spring.  Even better, with bipolar you’re not really out of the woods come spring, because manic or hypomanic episodes can kick in at that point.

<insert dissertation on melatonin, circadian rhythm, serotonin and their effects here>

So what are you supposed to do about it?

The most common suggestions:

1.  Light Box/Light Therapy/Dawn Simulators

Last year, my shrink suggested a light box.  I bought a ‘desktop’ model. Technically true if I don’t need my desk for anything other than the lamp.  The problem with light boxes is that you actually have to get out of bed and sit upright for at least 30 minutes whilst toasting.  But wait!!! Maybe a Dawn Simulator would help!  These fantastic alarm clocks are designed to naturally ease your way into the day by gradually increasing the amount of light in the room.  No jarring buzzers or loud beeping necessary! The only problem with that?  Nothing short of prying open my eyelids and shining a spotlight directly into my eyes would be effective.

Fun Fact:  The side effects of light therapy can include headache, fatigue, eye strain, irritability, and insomnia.  

2.  Antidepressants/Meds Compliance

Duh…

3.  Talk with your doctor or therapist

Duh…

4.  Spend time outdoors/Catch some rays

Duh…

5.  Exercise

In theory, that’s a great idea.  I think about exercising a lot.  I’m often told exercise will help ease my depression and improve my overall mood. Serotonin, blah blah blah. It’s pretty challenging getting into a routine, especially on those days when simply getting out of bed is an accomplishment.

6. Take a vacation in a sunny place

Seriously. It was overwhelmingly one of the top 5.  Realistically, who has the time or money (once they’ve shelled out for their light box, dawn simulator, meds, therapy sessions and exercise videos)?

Some of my other favorites:

Participate in enjoyable activities. Avoid alcohol and caffeine. Laugh. Paint your walls bright colors. Trim the bushes in front of your windows. Open your drapes. Avoid stress. Think happy thoughts. Meditate.

In all seriousness, a lot of these are common sense.  They’re the same things those with depression are already attempting to do. Unfortunately SAD adds an extra layer.  I haven’t quite figured out my magic formula.  For now, video clips of puppies, baby hedgehogs and the awkward recreation of Sia’s Chandelier music video by a slightly overweight, hairy man in a flesh-colored leotard will have to do.