Managing your own social media is an important skill in the world we now live in. The easiest way to look well, crazy, is to manage it badly.
No-one ever gets it right all of the time, not even politicians. Managing your social media can be like trying to navigate a pathway through Donald Trump's phone records with the Russians -- overwhelming, confusing and full of duplicities, and possibly even lies. But how do you pick which is which?
And by the way, Trump claims to be managing his own social media accounts, and given the debacle he is making of them a lot of the time, it seems to be true.
Being a blogger and former journalist, social media is the most popular topic I find myself being asked about at dinner parties everywhere from Chelsea, to Santiago, the south of France or Sydney. Everyone has an inner fear of social media and of looking bad.
See it for what it is.
Firstly, recognise your social media platforms are actually an extension of your own thoughts and ego. A study about Facebook by Mehdizadeh, showed that both narcissism and low self-esteem are related to greater Facebook use. In other words, people at both end of the psychological scale gravitate to it to feel better about themselves.
You can easily see this if you think about someone who is obsessed with working out and loves their body -- click on their Instagram, and there will be images of themselves flexing, in a swimsuit and so on. When people have babies it's even more pronounced, let alone dogs, new partners and so on. So don't kid yourself, social media makes you more transparent than ever.
Don't ever shut down your account.
Whenever a friend is going through a crisis, they jump on the phone and ask me if they should shut down their Facebook or Instagram account invariably citing it's 'too much'. My advice is always, don't.
A much better approach is to delete the app off your phone, and stay off social media yourself. There is no need to be dramatic and shut it down. You might as well wear a t-shirt saying 'I am feeling vulnerable and out of control of my own feelings' as that is the message you are sending. No-one needs to know that.
Just take a quite step back by disengaging from it all. Much like any detox, it might be hard initially but it wont be long before you are comfortable living without it.
Don't drink and post.
It is important to limit the times of day you post. I never recommend posting after 10pm at night, as often you've had a few drinks, or you're out partying and your judgement will not be its usual balanced self.
It sounds obvious, but at midnight whilst attending the party of your life on a rooftop in London in the height of summer, all of this rational thinking flies quickly out of the window.
Limit the number of images of yourself with a glass of alcohol in your hand.
This is just good common sense. No one looks good with a succession of champagne shots time after time on Facebook.
Don't use Social Media as a venue to vent your private thoughts.
Such as a new love interest, your grades at university, if you cheated on someone and so on. Pick up the phone and talk to a friend, social media is not that friend.
Limit the number of selfies you post.
The results from several studies into narcissim and selfies are mixed. A study as far back as 2008 published in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin found in general, people are pretty good at detecting narcissists from their social media profiles. Don't accidentally be one of them.
Don't block people unless it is absolutely critical.
And, think it through before you do. Blocking someone is a pretty major thing to do, and in most cases, it hurts the other person. If it is an ex-partner, that is possibly the only reason to do it (apart from harassment), but don't rush into it.
My rule after a breakup is to wait at least seven days after breaking up, preferably 14 days. Just give it all some breathing space.
For friends you've fallen out with? It is unnecessary and mean to block them and it will inevitably have repercussions on you, which you have not yet thought about. There are so many ways, on Facebook especially, to limit your view of that person's feed.
The bottom line here is when you block someone, you look like the problem, not them.
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Filter the personal stuff you put on any social media.
I never think it is a good idea to put your new car or the house you are selling on your personal social media account. Many people will perceive it as showing off, and it makes people aware of your financial status, which is never a good idea, particularly if you are single.
Make sure your posts are balanced and reflect a lot of different elements of your life.
Again, it just makes good sense. So if you've just bought a new dog, sure, some images are fine, but unless you have opened the dog their own account, keep things balanced and have other images there too.
When you have a crisis of any kind, do not allude to it on social media.
And, if you do, wait until you are truly on top of it and have accepted what is happening so that your posts are then balanced.
You'd think this would be obvious, but everyone has down days, and more often than not, if it happens when you're on holidays, you could be tempted to put an image of your great butt in that new g-string bikini. Don't! Stay classy, and stay balanced.
Remember, everyone can see social media -- your boss, your mum, your cousins, your children if you have them. And once that image is in cyberspace, it is there forever, so take care.
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