The title of this piece is a bit of an ear catcher, isn’t it? Let me explain. “Handle your scandal” is a phrase I use to, in the words of the Arctic Monkeys, ‘snap out of it.’
I use it when I get in a tangle of negative thoughts, start to lose control of my emotions and behave a bit 'Dawson’s Creek’.... if you're a kid who grew up in the nineties that will evoke all kinds of over-thinking drama.
Whether it’s because I’m a Leo, an extrovert or have an over active imagination… when it comes to going from 0 to 70 on the emotional scale I’m a Porsche and I’d prefer to be a golf cart tbh. This has shown up in my social media posting in the past which some of you may have witnessed and some of you can relate to. I basically used Facebook as an emotional crutch.
A point I want to be very clear on is that social media is a place to be whoever you want to be. It's my view you have the right to post whatever the hell you want, whenever you want – the good, the bad and the ugly.
I’m not the Facebook police – if your habits work for you and you’re getting what you need, then go for it.
I’m offering a view on “Handling scandal” or "snapping out of it" because I’m seeing more and more cases of people who have been in tears in the aftermath of laying it all bare on social media in the heat of the moment. It’s left them feeling exposed, embarrassed and worried about how it's affecting their offline relationships.
It has also often escalated and intensified the issue in question whether that’s arguments between friends, work problems, relationship wobbles, divorce and even building disputes - if it's going on, it's up for grabs.
The thing is, ‘Taking it to Facebook’ is a form of self-exposure rather than self-support - I know because I've done it.
Let's dig a little deeper but before we do...
In the clearest terms, if you’re, for example, struggling with your health or grieving a loss and remembering loved ones in a public way to ensure they stay present and remembered, no filter ever applies to how you express yourself. I’m not talking about health, grief and loss in this piece.
I’m talking about when experience(s) at home or at work take over our behaviours and seriously mess with how we act, often the opposite of how we would do face-to-face. It's that time, and we'll each have our own examples, when we are driven by an impulse that takes over the driving seat of our brain.
We should never dilute who we are to fit in or ‘play safe’ and yet, if we’re lashing out or damaging offline relationships, causing the people that care about us to think “WTF?”, it’s time to take a breath, pause before we post and look at how, ultimately, we’re using social media as an emotional crutch. I can tell you from first hand experience that is not an easy thing to chew on but it's worth it if you want to be kinder to yourself.
Now, the rest of this post comes with the full frontal (oo-er!) admission that I recognise I’ve been guilty of NOT handling my scandal in the past. I KNOW I have pissed people off, made eyes roll, prompted gossip behind my back because of what I’ve put on social media.
I have loads of personal examples to choose from but I double cringe thinking back to ex-boyfriend break-ups when I should have just STFU and stepped awaaaaaaayy from Facebook!
At the time airing my laundry to my digital village was something I did because I needed to vent. I was feeling isolated and wanted people to know. Despite the tumbleweeds and crickets I received in the comments, I wanted – no, needed - somebody to notice me and know what I was feeling.
That’s something that unites us all. Many of us look strong on the outside and are actually pretty fragile on the inside and I see it play back again and again when I coach my clients or just glance at my own feed – friends, family, class mates, celebrities, work mates and people I’ve met on holiday or at gigs.
We ALL want to be noticed and validated – that’s been part of the human condition forever and a day. Social media platforms are the places we share our moods and musings both good and bad and, as such, they’re places of constantly opposite expressions where the “Yay me” of the show-reel of people’s successes sits aside the “FML” of those not having such a great day.
Looking back at my own experience and having discussed this topic openly in seminars, it’s posts with a negative, perhaps vague vibe, that can be a symptom of something else going on which is more than having 'one of those days'.
The uncomfortable result, and many of you will have experience of this, is our ‘friends’ are tuning out, FB culling, unfollowing and clicking ‘hide from feed’ when they see those types of posts. With this, the pool of people paying attention to those that are using FB to let off steam is getting smaller.
Looking at this as whole - more of us using social media for a crutch, acting differently than we do in person, acting on impulse and our peers turning away, this makes me really worried. The impression I get is the trend is growing and we're losing a sense of ourselves, not looking within to make changes that will help us help ourselves in moments of need.
So, what do we do?
A shift in how I use Facebook has taken me from self-exposure to self-care. These steps are exactly what have worked for me and I hope if some of this post rings true these are useful guide, and if you know someone that may need a hand, please pass them on:
Notice what you notice
If you’re angry, upset and riled at someone or something, hold onto that for a moment and look inside yourself. What has led to this moment or event? How could it have been avoided?
Turn your conscious attention to what you can control to protect yourself in future. That might be to pack a flat tyre; it might be break up with that friend who has let you down again. It's a simple choice or a tough decision, but either way it’s necessary for you to TAKE NOTICE, nonetheless. Posting to social media without giving yourself the permission to understand the situation you’re in is a form of sleepwalking. You are worth so much more than that.
Ultimately what do you want?
Do you want your Facebook friends or Twittersphere to know you’ve been let down by someone again and you are so over it and how could they? Yadda yadda.
Do you want healthy relationships with those people that love and adore you and forget the rest?
If it’s important to you, make a choice to work at AS WELL as talk about it – whether that’s on or offline.
Take a breath
...Or you might term it ‘the 5 second rule’ i.e. just when you’re about to act on impulse, DON’T!
When we act in the heat or the freeze of a moment that’s not the real us. It’s us at our worst. The side we wouldn’t want our parent, best friend, sibling or child to see. That impulsive zing of rage or confusing accusation is not who you are.
Take a breath and let the intensity of the feeling pass over you – because it will pass and you will handle it. Show up for yourself like you would your best friend or your favourite boss – by lashing out you only hurt yourself. Give yourself the gift of calm. You can and will pass through whatever is troubling you because you’ve done it before and you’ll do it again.
See it all the way through
If you lash out, whether actively or passively, that comment or post won’t go away. Even if deleted it will still have been seen and retained by those that know you and judgments about you made.
See it all the way through after you click 'post' – there are consequences to our actions that can often include hurt feelings and misunderstandings. Is that what you want? To be another blade in an already sharp world?
As transient and real-time as the Internet is, that will be part of your digital footprint. Over time, a picture is being built of who you think you are and YOU are the one influencing that.
What we must understand is that the words we use have power. We are what we repeatedly say and it's time to look at whether our words are self-exposing or self-caring and how does that affect our digital legacy and reality NOW? What will your partners, kids and grandkids think when they scroll back in time and read what you’re about? When you 'see it all the way through' is it worth it?
This isn’t about getting people to like us or perhaps making us more acceptable. This is about getting us to like ourselves. You are too beautiful and special not to start to turn up the good words and the positive tones that will serve you and protect your self worth.
Your filter is your friend
Your feelings should not be used as other people’s fodder. And yet, when we over share we become the topic of pub conversations and bitchy gossip. It makes me shiver but it’s true.
I filter what I share on social media as a form of self-care and protection. Because there are some things that are sacred to me, just for me, too sensitive to be the stuff of gossip. The first of which is my mental wellbeing and when I’m feeling wobbly on my feet or insecure, which is quite often if I’m honest, I do everything I can to make repairs and get back to strong.
For me this starts with regrouping offline and mustering my support network for help: Cups of tea, strategizing, puppy videos, beer, pizza, social media planning and whatever it takes. We each forget we have little armies of people just waiting to help us and cover our backs until we’re OK again.
Life happens all at once and we must protect ourselves – your feelings are too important and precious to be the stuff of casual gossip. I find if I filter what I share online I control how I feel offline, and that’s more important to me than any likes, shares or comments someone might tap into an app while they’re bored commuting.
Social media has made us all complicit voyeurs, but our lives are not for other's entertainment. You are one in a million and it's time you cared for yourself that way you bloody amazing creature!
Now it’s over to you to have your say in the comments below.
- What do you think about sharing our really personal shiz on social media?
- How can we better support each other when we see people going through something?
- How do you think our online behaviour differs to our offline approach?
I'd love to hear your thoughts on this one and if you have your own self-care remedies please go for it below…
Love Lucy xox
(Sources: http://www.buzzfeed.com/elliewoodward/things-people-with-bitchy-resting-face-are-tired-of-heari?bffbu /// http://www.buzzfeed.com/kristinchirico/dont-wear-high-heels-on-the-lawn // http://www.buzzfeed.com/catesevilla/29-things-everyone-who-didnt-go-to-university-will-understan?bffbuk)