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At each year’s end, people are apt to imagine that the previous 12 months were uniquely bad, The New Yorker‘s Jia Tolentino recently pointed out. “It’s in the nature of years to feel exhausting in retrospect,” she wrote. “But 2016 does seem to have earned some sort of special designation.” Zika outbreaks spread, Bowie and Prince died, uncivil discourse blossomed like a cold sore, and November brought what we now know to be a tampered-with U.S. presidential election. And that was just in the Americas. Standing on the cusp of 2017, we seem poised to roll back decades of social and environmental progress.

All of these disasters were amplified by social media, which bombards us with news of global mayhem in exactly the same space occupied by news of our loved ones and pictures of bunnies. Confronted with cute memes, we click the “like.” But we keenly feel our helplessness to alleviate the suffering and antipathy that’s increasingly on display right next to the things that make us smile.

Personally, I believe that helplessness goes viral inside, and I just shut down. Apathy and exhaustion are understandable responses. But they don’t help, and neither do the conventions we’ve been coached to use online, particularly in our professional lives. That’s why I’m changing my approach to social media in 2017—and you should, too.

1. I’VE HAD IT WITH “PERSONAL BRANDING”

According to career experts and “personal branding” aficionados, we’re supposed to craft careful brand narratives to represent ourselves. I think that’s bunk. Branding injects products with human qualities to make them more relatable. Well, guess what, human—you’ve already got human qualities.

Read more: Fastcompany

Author: TED LEONHARDT

Image via: Flickr user Sonya Mann

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