Emotional intelligence and social media

I’ve been using Facebook for around 9 years.  Before that I sporadically used a myriad of social media channels throughout my teen years.  Unlike Facebook though, most of those channels are now gone and I’m not faced with cringe worthy reminders of the things I wrote when my emotional intelligence wasn’t at the level it is now.  Thank you Facebook memories!emotional-intelligence-and-social-mediaEmotional intelligence doesn’t have anything to do with a person’s IQ or the grades they got in school.  A person can be a rocket scientist and still have zero emotional intelligence.  Emotional intelligence refers to someone’s ability to evaluate, express, identify and control their emotions.

This type of intelligence helps us to navigate interpersonal relationships effectively.  Someone with a low emotional intelligence often lacks the insight into their emotions and how the expression of those emotions impacts on those around them.  People who have been diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), like myself, are often diagnosed because their emotional responses are out of sync with what is happening around them.

When I was quite unwell, it showed in my online activity.  Even now, when I am having a bad day, it shows.  When I was unwell, before I started therapy, I didn’t think about the consequences of the things I posted on my social media.  I didn’t worry about the fact that not everything I shared was mine to share.  I lacked insight into my actions and the emotions ruled.

Over the last couple of years the online space has changed dramatically.  Facebook and micro blogging reigns supreme and there’s been a huge push back against curated social media.  Raw and honest has become what the masses are screaming for but I worry about how that translates to real time posting and the people who get caught in the crossfire.

I think that having a high level of emotional intelligence is extremely important when it comes to being a public figure on social media.  Having the ability to assess risk, communicate effectively and still have your thoughts heard is valuable in the fast paced environment of social media.  A strong emotional intelligence doesn’t mean that you don’t share raw and honest, but it does mean that you have a greater insight into the wider impact of your actions.

Social media is an absolute minefield of opinions, not all of them are going to gel with yours and hell some of them might even be about you.  It’s easy to go with our emotional response, instead of our wise mind when something we disagree with happens.  It’s easy to lash out at the people who have upset us.

Emotional intelligence is what steps in when that response pushes to the forefront of our minds.  It’s what stops us from posting about our dickhead bosses.  The post might be true, the person might have wronged you, but have you really thought about the consequences?  I know I didn’t when I was unwell.

  Do you think it’s important to have a high level of emotional intelligence to be an online identity?



21 thoughts on “Emotional intelligence and social media

  1. Josefa

    Absolutely, if not at the time, certainly at some point, posting something that is only highly volatile and emotive will surely bring more harm than good, starting with you. I’m starting to be a fan of less is more on social media. And went through a phase of dramatically cleaning out my whole history on FB. I think sometimes things have a place, but that place does not need to exist forever.

  2. Nicole @ The Builder's Wife

    I think it is important to be balanced. If I am having a bad day, I used to want to vent via social media, now days I steer clear of it to be sure I don’t say something I regret the next day. Is it the same as emotional intelligence, I’m not sure but it sure seems like a smart decision to me. xx

  3. Deb @ inner compass designs

    Great food for thought. I agree. Social media has changed how we communicate and in some cases people have forgotten that you cannot simply delete something once it has been seen, possible screenshoted and shared. Someone once told me about writing your rant and setting the fb post to just you being able to see it. You get to release your anger but can really delete later.

  4. Lydia C. Lee

    To be honest, if having a bad day it’s probably best to step away from the social media because 1) the dumbasses out there will bring you down further (never read the comments on SMH!!) and 2) you may regret what you posted in the morning. In the same way it’s probably best not to ring up the person who’s bugging you when you’ve had a drink….

  5. Vanessa

    This is generally why if I vent online, it’s about something bland like trains being cancelled and hating commuting 🙂 I think people confuse raw with necessary.

  6. Maxabella

    Such a thoughtful piece, Tegan and a unique and important perspective.

    I think that it is time we stopped thinking of ‘online’ as somehow separate to ‘real life’. It’s all just life. In life, I conduct myself with care and respect and kindness. I don’t say everything that comes into my head. I don’t hurl abuse at someone just because they think differently to me (I don’t even hurl abuse at someone who hurls abuse at me). It’s actually not that difficult, people. Just be kind.

  7. JF Gibson

    I totally agree. I like to think I have a high emotional intelligence. I’m very intentional about what I post online, and what I interact with. Just as I am in real life I guess.

  8. Deborah

    I think emotional intelligence is important for life in general. I’ve got a few people in my life very lacking in that area and I get hurt (a lot) by them. And I see them do the same to others will little awareness. I know they’d be shocked if I said something and all I can do sometimes…. is remind myself that ‘it’s not me’.

  9. Sandra Kelly

    Emotional intelligence! Yes! I think this is one time where we don’t have to get caught up in the “now”. It’s okay to let things sit and consider our responses once we’ve felt all the emotion – then act – if you then need to at all. Great post.

  10. Melinda

    Great topic and fantastic advice. I sometimes look at the ‘brain-snaps’ going on over social media and wonder what people are thinking, and you’re right- generally the bridge between intelligent thought and emotion has been blown apart and people say things which are just awful. I know most schools have education programs around this sort of thing now and sometimes I think a lot of adults would also benefit from them.

  11. Jo @ You had us at hello

    It’s scary being reminded what you shared on Facebook so many years ago, but thankfully it was just tired Mumsy celebrations like “found the remote!” Haha! It worries me what is out there on social media. Venting can be read at so many different levels and the backfire afterwards can be horrific. I hope the current waves calm down soon #teamIBOT

  12. Lauren

    Emotional intelligence is a hugely valuable asset in any situation. If we focused on developing emotional intelligence in our children, d eor focusing primarily on academia at school, future generations may be able to avoid these kinds of squabbles. Emotional intelligence may not guarantee you a high paying job but it is more likely to bring you happiness and satisfaction, which is ultimately more valuable, at least to me


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