When you were in high school, social media was mostly a distraction to share memes with your friends and check out what everyone did over the weekend. Now it seems like you need to manage your online presence as much as your real life. It’s not just about “keeping up with the Joneses,” it’s about connecting to the right people who could help you land that dream job and being informed about what’s going on in your industry and the culture at large. You spend just as much time curating your “work” social media as your “personal” social media (which you’re careful to keep clean of anything an employer might look down at). And that doesn’t even touch on how you should approach the political stuff you feel passionate about.
In theory, your internet networking will land you a dream career, help you make a difference in the world and maintain important bonds with your friends (through all the freshest memes, of course). It’s a lot of stress, but ultimately all those hours in the blue light of your computer screen will be worth it, right? Well, not exactly. As ubiquitous as social media has become, it still doesn’t match your interactions in reality.
The best way to land an interview is still through personal contacts. A well-written cover letter and smart resume also can help get you in the door. Once you’re in that interview, you’ll clinch the job by showing off your impressive personal talents and experiences. Applied for a job at an investment institution? The deciding factor in getting the job will be the newsletter where you correctly called price movements in the tech industry for the last six months, not the fact that you’ve liked everything Bloomberg tweeted over the same time period.
All the outrage in the world isn’t going to affect the political process if you’re just at home reading articles. You might be the most informed person, but you won’t make a difference unless you’re working with other people toward a goal. Whichever side of an issue you’re on, the best way to make a change is to get involved. While all the words may be online, the action is in your local community. Ask around and you’re bound to find opportunities that align with the values you hold dear.
When it comes to your friends, a little bit of quality time is worth more than any amount of hearts on photos. Memes might make you chuckle but they won’t make lasting memories. Don’t try to engage in a friendship entirely from behind a computer. You’ll achieve more depth and fulfillment in your relationships if you use social media to facilitate in-person activities.
It can be tempting to measure yourself with social media. Likes, friends and followers add an illusion of quantification to your social life that implies either success or failure. However, the real metrics for personal success have been around since long before dawn of the internet, and they aren’t easy to express with numbers. Remember that social media is a tool to help you connect with people, not a game that you need to win.