I'm a proud Millennial, and I'm tired of people always ripping us apart as if we are a generation to be pitied. People say we don't know how to connect personally and authentically because we are addicted to our phones and social media. And, while I would agree some of us could very well struggle in that arena and we can do a better job, these generalizations have my panties in a knot. What people often forget is that we made a way for everyone to have a voice to share what they are doing and how they are feeling to those that would listen. we created social media and adapted quickly to it because we have been raised by generations that hide their emotions and feelings as if there was a medal to be won for never crying or arguing in front of kids or saying you didn't like something.
We were parented by the Baby Boomers that created the 50% divorce rate - the generation that grew up seen and not heard by The Greatest Generation. And, sadly, The Greatest Generation didn't have the luxury of emotions. They were just happy to be alive, so, of course, they told their children to just "be thankful and be quiet."
Did you know that marriages of Millennials are lasting longer as reported by Bloomberg. We are actually putting hope and meaning back into marriage. Hooray! We are having emotional intimacy in our marriages and fighting for it. And I would bet a million dollars that it's the lack of emotional connectivity, expression of empathy and sympathy that the is culprit of the Baby Boomer generations continued decline of marriage (yes, they are still getting divorced according to the stats).
But, we need to be careful how we're using our new found way of connection. We adapted quickly to social media without taking time to be intentional with it. We are sharing and liking and double-tapping so fast that we are just making noise now and not listening to each other anymore. Let's get back to that! Here's a challenge for us to help us continue to lead past and future generations in emotional connection.
9 POINT SOCIAL MEDIA CHALLENGE
1. Say what we mean, and mean what we say. No more posting to post as if we're slaves to algorithms or imaginary Joneses. Be mindful that each post has the potential to influence people for good or bad, and take a moment to ask yourself, "Is this worth posting and will it hurt or help someone?"
2. Avoid mindless affirmations. When you double tap, like or repin something you are affirming a person, thing or business. Make your actions meaningful and not a twitch of your thumb. You may even accidentally like a post that you completely disagree with just because you didn't take time to read the post.
3. Read the captions. Take time to read and hear what people are saying. That's why they are sharing to begin with. If you don't want to hear what they have to say then maybe you shouldn't follow them. Let's have meaningful connections and interactions with the people we have chosen to invest in.
4. Unfollow accounts that you don't enjoy or may go against your principles. People say that depression and self-esteem issues are on the rise because of social media. Part of that problem is the content we put out there and part of it is what we choose to consume. If something is leaving you feeling crappy take it out of your life. That doesn't mean we have to shut down our Instagram accounts and do the all or nothing approach. It means we should take inventory of what we consume.
5. When you see someone hurting or having a rough day please tell them they have been heard even if even you don't have advice or can't relate. Many times we take to social media with our problems because we want someone to listen or we're trying to find out if we're not alone. Take a moment to help.
6. Set limits and boundaries on what you share. Think about who reads your posts and who can potentially read them in the future. One day your children will read what you write and potentially future employers. Oversharing can be damaging when you don't set limitations.
7. Risk sharing some flaws in the midst of the beauty. Sharing a perfect life isn't helping anyone. In fact, it's causing harm because it's setting an unattainable standard for your peers and children. There is plenty of beauty and happiness to be had, but there is always sadness and mistakes. Showing people you make them also allows you to show people how you overcome them. And that's just as beautiful as your sunsets, cocktails or outfits you post.
8. Pick a person to love on this year. Just one person that you go out of your way to encourage and be intentional with on social media. Who knows of the impact you can have.
9. Turn off your phone when you're playing with your kids or having a conversation with people. I have to put my phone upstairs far from where I can pick it up, but it works. It keeps me engaged. When I am meeting with someone I don't pull it out of my bag. You can hear your babysitter's call if there is an emergency. ;)
Photos by Rennai Hoefer