Contributing writer Matthew Fam misses how Facebook used to be so vocal and uninhibited in its plethora of opinions. With heightened policing of our online profiles, this lack of spontaneity is killing the very purpose of social media. Bring spontaneity back, he says.
How many times have you typed a social media update, before hitting that backspace button upon consideration?
Back in my junior college days when Facebook first came out, the social media platform ran rife with angst-ridden posts and existential haikus. For crying out loud, my break-up woes were practically chronicled in cheesy song links and passive aggressive one-liners (all deleted now, thank you very much). With all that ‘poking’, owning of friends as ‘Human Pets’ and random gifting of flower pots, Facebook was THE vista of spontaneity.
These days? Not looking so great. With our professional lives thrown in the mix, we’re increasingly caught up with presenting a pristine, manicured image of ourselves online. We post knowing that we’re being watched by people we don’t know. We especially avoid speaking up in anger or derision of issues.
And it’s no surprise why: with cases in Singapore like Amy Cheong and Anton Casey, whose personal opinions have ended up in dismissals, it’s easy to understand why one would rather be safe and practice self-restraint. Sometimes when I post my views on social media, I find myself crafting my words extra carefully so it doesn’t ruffle feathers or get misconstrued by prospective employers. Where did this urge to be so restrained come from? Am I turning into a secret prude??
People often confuse speaking one’s mind with being frivolous or overly-confrontational, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. I don’t see why expressing anger- within reason- is a negative thing. I’m not saying that you have free reign to cross out-of-bound markers and rally hate. But I think we lose a sense of spontaneity when we choose to silence even the slightest contention we wish to share on social media.
Instead of letting your social media profile become a passive storage of shared links and photos, here are 3 reasons why you could use a little more spontaneity expressing views online:
1. It’s a good pressure release
Intermittent releases of anger act as a pressure relief valve that prevent the bottling up of frustration. These mini-releases can come in the form of a single post, for instance, voicing out why you disagree with the banning of library books. Keeping a tight lid on your thoughts may build up to an irrational outburst further down the road (think capital letters and exclamation marks) and that wouldn’t look good on your part. Moreover, while you are in a calmer state of mind, it’s easier to manage your emotions and make the pitch.
2. It trains you to better articulate your thoughts
Enacting on spontaneity to voice opinions trains you to think through situations more carefully. It makes you more discerning of which battles are worth picking, and how you can best present your case. At the same time, you are made to be considerate towards other followers of your social media. It’s a great exercise in practicing inter-personal relations! These spoken ideas also help facilitate dialogue among various parties who may or may not agree with you. And through this exchange, we can share among us a broader world view (one point for humanity!).
3. You come across as confident, responsible and assured
One of the main reasons why people practice restraint on Facebook is because they don’t want to compromise their professional prospects. For instance, we keep our pages drunk-photo free so employers don’t get the wrong impression of our work ethic. But why not see it this way: by speaking your mind in a rational manner- even if it means expressing unpopular sentiment- you create a positive impression of being decisive and assured of your stand. This way, people who view your posts can count you as someone whose confidence in personal opinion can be translated to spearheading projects in the workplace.
Spontaneity in social media should be used as leverage for other people to get to know you as a person. I mean, isn’t that why Facebook was created in this first place? If you have something to say, think it through before posting. But say it- because self-restraint is so overrated.
About the Author: Matthew Fam is a contributing writer of Material World, and has worked at Cosmopolitan Singapore as an intern and Contributing Beauty Assistant. He writes, teaches, and performs for the stage. Matthew enjoys museum visits, Singaporean Theatre, and is thoroughly embarrassed by his teenage Facebook posts. Follow him on Instagram @mattjfam.
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