Here are a few things to remember while browsing the ubiquitous, pervasive and revolving door of the internet at our palms.

It’s a choice: 

Remember social media is a choice. And because its a choice, choose active engagement, not passive consumption.

Real life doesn’t wait: 

There’s real life happening around us while we’re watching celebrities live flashy endorsement rich lifestyles at our cost. We might miss the attention (wannabe boyfriends and girlfriends) that others want to give us in real life.

Celebrity fakes: 

Celebrity lifestyles on Instagram are like perfect 3 pointers in a basketball game. They’re not common, hard to achieve and deceptively good. Comparisons to those from a novice budding player on a school court can be unhealthy and unnecessary.

Reputation matters:

In the age we live in, we’ve become anxious about getting more likes, per story or picture, just to prove our popularity in real life. But in reality, things evolve slowly, brands are not built at lightning speed like how they seem to be online. It takes years to build a reputation, but seconds to dissolve it.

Cyberbullying:

Cyberbullying is being hateful and harmful via online words and actions, deliberately and repeatedly. We only know that such a thing exists because we’ve all been touched by kindness in our real lives. Anonymous messaging apps have turned our lives into stream of name calling and insults.

Not everything is jest: 

What’s the harm in doing some harmless fun, right? Without context or consent, a word or a picture can be misunderstood and it doesn’t take time for such a thing to turn into an unacceptable situation. Didn’t such things happen earlier, you ask. The speed and the magnitude with which virtual wildfires spread is a factor for many problems. Some of our actions online can make for some big real life problems.

Legendary memory:

Nothing that’s ever put on the internet ever dies. Save your life by protecting your online reputation. A momentary indiscretion can have life changing consequences in personal and professional lives.

Distraction addiction:

Such a thing is only available online. When we’re face to face, there’s not much chance of getting distraction involuntarily. Of course, there are those people who show visible signs of boredom the minute they pull out their phones mid conversation.

Virtual endorsement:

We’re at the mercy of the volatile reputation of social networks that we’re not in control of. We’re all seeking approvals from others by changing our online persona. As a result, our self identity is skewed, who are we really?

Linear communication:

As a result of only exchanging verbal communication, our emotions are not perceived and processed correctly by the receiver. While we continue to communicate this way, we only engage our right brain which is logical and literal. We leave emotion behind, because our brains don’t see the need to read non verbal cues in a text message or a Facebook message.

Empathy: 

Empathy is the single most factor that determines what kind of a human, leader and adults we’ll be. What is Empathy? Empathy is how we treat absolute strangers. It is our ability to put ourselves in the situations that others are going through. When we communicate via online, we don’t know enough of the tone and intent of the other person to empathize with them 100%.

Body cues: 

When we communicate face to face with others, the mirror neurons in our brains help us deal with the other person’s facial expressions and cues that their body is sending. As our brain interprets this data, our levels of dopamine rise when we hear something nice in what they’re relaying to us. This is how we connect. This is how we build out social currency, but being understanding and diplomatic about others emotions and feelings. This is how we find common ground, create rapport and build social networks in real life.

Imagined reality:

Most of us spend our time and days living in a life of fictional reality. Worrying about which brand shoes to buy and which online store to shop next. Gods, corporations, nations, politics add to the confusion. We also forget to realise that most of our actions are guided by our imagined thoughts, emotions and feelings.

Grandmother’s social media:

Unlike the popular myth, we don’t need to be on social media to stay in touch. A network is physical before its virtual and available online. Remember, a balloon soars in the air with no support only if its tightly anchored in real ground.

Distraction is not busy:

Being busy for the sake of being busy, having to catch up on other people’s feeds are not real like skills. Understand the implications of too much time on devices is having on our relationships and productivity in real life. Its impossible to catch on all those hours of YouTube anyway. Its a lost cause.

Online porn: 

Kids, intentionally or not, are now being exposed to online porn at the age of 10. Understand that, like a lot of fake news out there, not everything we see of other people with perfect bodies is necessarily real. Lady Gaga might have been born that way (cue, her famous song), but not every one is.

Time well spent: 

The national average for video game play per week among gamers is 19 hours. Just imagine how heavily imbalanced the way we spend our time is. Understand its impact on sleep, our health and our long term priorities.

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