The Ultimate Guide to Improving Your Social Media Experience

phone cell angry

We sometimes forget how new this social media thing is. The ability of anyone to contact anyone else, directly and publicly, has been a part of our lives for only a decade. In many ways, we're all still getting used to it. The medium may not be in its infancy, but it's not much beyond that.

Like a deaf man who can suddenly hear, we're experiencing profound over-stimulation and a general inability to sort noise from meaningful content. Everything we see in our feed arrives with equal urgency, whether it's a link to hard news from a credible source or utterly fraudulent clickbait. Likewise, every comment in our threads enjoys the same virtual stage, whether it's substantive and relevant or a complete non sequitur.

This democratization of content generation has also democratized editorial responsibility. Our feed isn't curated by a professional editor. Our comment threads aren't policed by objective moderators. It's up to us, individually, to both evaluate the quality of information and enforce our personal rules for digital conduct.

With that in mind, here are four principles and guidelines for improving your social media experience:

1. Relationships Are Transactional

This is the number one thing to learn, not just as it applies to social media, but as it applies to every interaction you have with other people. Relationships are transactional, meaning we seek to gain value and provide value in return. Any healthy relationship, no matter its nature -- from a married couple to a store clerk and their customer, involves an exchange of value to mutual benefit. Unhealthy relationships, which we have all experienced, emerge when one person or the other either fails to provide value or actively destroys it.

The only reason for you to interact with someone else, ever, is because they provide value. Conversely, the only reason for them to interact with you is because you provide value. Neither you nor they are entitled to the other's ear. This is why conversations between free people eventually come to an end. At a certain point, there's nothing of value left to exchange, or there is something else to do that proves of greater value. There's nothing wrong with that. It's normal, and it applies to social media.