“We have all known the long loneliness, and we have found that the answer is community.” ~ Dorothy Day
There is a simple reason why social media is a billionaire dollar industry, it has made a vast world seem so much smaller with just a click of a button. From the days of AIM and the original “Messenger,” where the icon was a bubble person, and everyone posted Nickleback or Jewel lyrics as away messages. (remember away messages?) To the short-lived Myspace and LiveJournal which gave way to the boom of Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter and countless other platforms.
It has evolved. It has been monetized, yet the the goal of connecting people across the world at a touch of a keyboard has only been made smaller. It is the perfect tool for staying in touch with those far away, documenting life, planning parties, checking if people are safe to so, much more. It helps keep us connected when physically we can not be there.
With all those pros, comes the flip side of the coin, the cons.
As much as it is great to stay connected with friendships, that very tool can become a crutch. It is easy to get sucked down that social media vortex. The ease it is to wish someone a happy birthday instead of calling or texting. To write I am thinking of you on a wall, instead of physically picking up the phone and calling that person to let them know.
With the job of communicating physically, being taken away, relationships are now more superficial then ever before. A like here or comment there is sufficient enough to be considered a “friendship.” The book length text messages, long phone calls, or two hour face time dates, have disappeared with social media replacing it, making the work of creating in-depth connections “easy.”
Yet we all know the best relationships in life take work.
I have witnessed first hand the social media demise of physical friendships. A couple months ago, I texted a friend explaining I felt disconnected from her. Her response? Stop being ridiculous. The reasoning? Because we were Instagram friends, we still communicated. The irony was even that had seemed to disappear. Despite stalking my story, she rarely liked or commented on anything I posted.
Seeing glimpses of my life, of what I post, isn’t truly knowing someone especially if you do not interact with them. It rarely shows the stresses, the hardships, or the loneliness that even having two thousand friends can not erase.
She didn’t know I had a boyfriend, the changes I had made, and the successes I had encountered in the last year. She had no idea if I was happy or sad. If I was struggling with life or on top of the world. She like many others on social media only saw what I posted. While yes I try to be authentic, rarely do I post (especially on Instagram) when life just really effing sucks.
Friendship is more then a like
The tool that had been so important to helping us stay connected, had suddenly backfired. In a matter of months we had become mere acquaintances, waving at each other as we passed through the cyber portal that had become our daily lives.
While life is busier then ever, we have become isolated. We consider strangers online, our nearest and dearest. Instead of having face to face coffee dates we hold more stock in our “Friends” lists with interactions turning from the physical to tech driven.
As great as social media is, it can not be the only thing that connects us. Life wasn’t designed for us to be an island. We need people.m. We need relationships, that do not center around our own self centeredness, but give us meaning and challenge us to be better. To fulfill us.
Yes social media makes it easier for us to stay connected, but it has become TO easy. All the effort, all that work, has gone out of it. We like and comment on such a generic level it gives us the illusion of connection when in reality we just go through the motions. It reminds me of dialogue in Harry Potter when Dumbledore says that Voldemort “Only has a half life.” We only have half friendships.
For the short term, it is a great friendship builder, for the long term it can be destructive. Easy doesn’t always mean best and friendships take work.
That isn’t to say you can’t have friendships online. I have met some amazing people on the internet especially in the blogging community. I have friends scattered across the world, and it allows me to stay connected to them.
But we also don’t rely on it as our sole communication. Our relationships are not defined by the bowels of the computer, but rather it helps enhance what is already there, which was what social media was originally designed to do. Connect us all on a a globally so that we can build bridges on much more physical level.
Do you think social media is a friend killer? What are your thoughts on social media? As always I love to hear from you guys!