As a teenager, I used to occasionally get drunk. I have to be honest – I was never really into it. I don’t look back fondly on those memories for the simple fact that most of them aren’t actually that good. In almost every situation where alcohol was involved I did something stupid, misguided or regrettable. In June 2007, I made a choice not to drink alcohol at all, and I haven’t since. I despise the idea that I would knowingly make myself anything less than the best that I could possibly be or conversely, consume something in order to be the best that I could be. If I’m not at my best in my most natural state, I’ve got serious work to do. I want to shape, mould and grow my character into one that people can be inspired by – a role model for the people that follow me. That’s one of the core things that drives me. And let’s be honest, it’s hard enough to do that well without other influences pulling you down!
I try to use social media in the same way – sites like YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and blogs like this. I want to set a great example to others. I want it to reflect the best of me, not the worst. I never want to speak badly of others in these arenas. I want to write and post things that will encourage and build others up. I don’t want to tell people how angry or upset I am or make derogatory remarks about people online (frankly, I don’t really want to do it at all) or harbour negativity towards any group or organisation. Sometimes, like drinking alcohol, it’s best for me just not to use Twitter or Facebook for a period if I feel frustrated with something to avoid the temptation of saying anything negative at all. With the former, I avoid it all of the time simply because I never used to see any benefits from it whatsoever but I find the latter to be a fantastic tool to influence people positively. I had to learn right back when social media was picking up that it can be dangerous to use it as an unfiltered vent. Irreparable damage can be delivered within a matter of seconds. I choose to carefully filter my contribution to the online world now – don’t get me wrong, I’ll still have a good moan every now and then, but I’ll choose the right person to ‘vent’ to in a safe way.
Social media has the potential to be world-changing if used in a positive way. Unfortunately, it also has the opportunity to tear families and friendships apart if used in a negative way.
- Have you ever thought about your use of social media? Does it have a positive or negative impact on the people around you?
- Would you like people to see you as a good role model?
- Are there any adjustments you need to make in order to be a greater role model to the people around you?