JUST recently my friends and I were talking about the things we see on social media. We came to the conclusion that you can’t really believe everything you see there because most of the time people carefully select what they choose to share. Conversely, there are also quite a few who live virtually on social media so you know virtually everything there is to know about them.

Being on social media is a two-way street. It’s as much about what you put out as well as what you read. You’ve got to be discerning about the information you receive, digest and believe. If you’re not mindful about this and start comparing your life to others’, you can end up quite unhappy.

Just like everything in life, there are different types of people on social media. They include the Influencer, Stalker, Troll, Listener, Activist, Spammer, Ranter, Fashionista, Social Butterfly, Approval Seekers, Informers, Ghosts and more. So many articles have been written about this.

In fact, social media has been attributed to affect our mental health, regardless of age. Cyber-bullying is also rife and can be especially harmful for children, teens and young adults in their formative years.

VIRTUAL WORLD

That said, I personally find social media very interesting. It’s a way I can keep in touch with friends without having to leave the house. There are times I wish I could join in the fun, but being involved from a distance gives some sort of satisfaction too.

Call it FOMO (fear of missing out) because I don’t often go out to functions, but getting glimpses of what my family and friends are up to on their social media often amuse me. Some are such wonderful candid captures while others are beautifully composed and staged.

You can especially see this kind of polished presentation offered by Influencers. Their lives seem so flawless (waking up with perfect hair or complexion sans makeup and any effort). I guess they need to do this as they’re promoting certain products and are getting paid for it. And then, there are those postings that are just so spontaneous — of people having fun with children, pets or hobbies.

Postings on social media can be irritating when people rant or get ugly with their words and opinions. But at least you can still block them out. You have that power to eliminate what doesn’t work for you.

Mind you, I’ve had my fair share of sifting through the people I want on my list of so-called friends. A good rule to follow is: if you don’t know them, don’t add them. Adding strangers to your personal social media is asking for trouble because after a while, you end up sharing so much about your personal life without a second thought. You can get careless and become a victim. One of the best ways to avoid this is to set up different accounts — if you have the time and energy for it.

Alternatively, create groups for certain chats, especially regarding updates of your current status. You can use this platform to link with likeminded people who are going on a similar journey as yours.

REACHING OUT

Where caregiving is concerned, it can be a good place to look for support — whether just for chats or services that you require. You’ll find that you’re not alone and that there’s someone out there who may be able to connect with you. There might be something in someone’s posting that’s totally relatable.

Isolation and depression is nothing new to caregivers. Some people feel this but don’t quite know how to reach out. Sometimes when you’ve been doing this for so long and your loved one is deteriorating, you get so disheartened and tired.

Does anyone care about what you’re doing? Does anyone even recognise it? Is it something you have to do quietly to maintain the dignity of it all? Maybe it’s all of the above — or maybe none at all. Maybe it’s not about validation or approval but something to share so that people understand.

There’ll be Haters out there who’d tell you to get a life. But how can one do that when caregiving has become your life 24/7 and you don’t have the resources or know-how to deal with it in other ways?

That’s the advantage of being on social media. It’s an avenue for you to share what you’re going through and for people to reach out to you. It’s a great way to stay in touch with people — from family, relatives and friends — if you know how to navigate through the complexities. Once you know how to fine-tune the mix, you get just what is comfortable for you to stay in touch.

Putri Juneita Johari volunteers for the Special Children Society of Ampang (SCSOA).

She can be reached at [email protected].