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Thursday, April 28, 2016

Social Media & False Connectedness


Originally Posted at www.christiecote.com. I shared this on my author blog the other day and thought I would share here too.

I’ve been thinking about Facebook and social media a lot lately. I think social media, especially Facebook, gives us a false sense that we are communicating with our friends and family. It makes us believe we know what is going on in someone’s life because we see their posts and click the like button and maybe even write a little comment and they might do the same in return.

Here is the thing.

We aren’t actually having a personal dialog with these people. We don’t necessarily know what is going on in their lives, only what they choose to post publicly. If we don’t communicate outside of those posts then we don’t know anything more than that. Some people post almost everything that happens in their daily life, but others are very selective or don’t take the time. I used to post about almost everything, but over the past several years, I have grown and changed. I’ve turned into a selective person and generally just post about big events or something that relates to reading and writing or one of my other interests. If you only look at my posts, you are only getting a tiny fragment of my life; I have so much more going on. My life has changed significantly in recent years and in ways I’m a different person then I was just a few years ago.

I think people have this false relationship with me and believe we are communicating and engaging in each other’s lives and I’m certainly guilty of living in the false sense of friendship as well, but it isn’t real communication. It isn’t a real relationship. It doesn’t compare to when I used to spend hours on the phone with my friends talking and having real dialog, getting deep and very personal about things I wouldn’t want everyone to know and I certainly wouldn’t be posting about on the internet. It’s not the same as sending a letter, email, or even a text message and corresponding directly with that person. We aren’t keeping those personal connections anymore. Social media is great for mass communication to a bunch of people at once and being able to advertise and promote stuff, and even finding people we lost touch with for various reasons, but it’s truly hindering our interpersonal communication and our relationships. I have people who I used to be really good friends with but now we’ve morphed into Facebook friends. We just don’t talk outside of Facebook anymore. How did this happen? When did it become so uncomfortable to talk to someone on the phone, or it just become not worth our time? Why is it easier to just post on the black hole that is Facebook instead of reaching out directly to the people who mean the most to us? Honestly, there are very few people I feel connected to anymore and I think this is part of the problem.

Don’t get me wrong, I love that social media exists and the Internet and am thankful for it. I wouldn’t have met one of my best friends if it weren’t for the Internet and social media because that is how we met. We’ve never been in the same state, but our conversations grew from social media messages, to emails, to texts, to phone calls. We don’t get to talk on the phone much, but when we have it helped grow our relationship. We are such good friends because we text each other almost every day to see how the other is and check in and are always there when the other needs to talk or vent. Especially, since I don’t usually vent on Facebook any longer. I grew out of that and instead talk my frustrations out with my husband or my friends in person or through emails or text messages.

I just think it’s really sad and tragic how our communication has changed. I hate how I don’t feel connected to people I used to be very close with and this isn’t me blaming those people because as I mentioned I’m guilty of this as well. I get stuck just paying attention to Facebook and don’t reach out to people personally.

This isn’t meant as a rant, but to try to make people think; to encourage people to close out of social media once a day or week and reach out to someone they haven’t talked to in a while outside of social media. Find out what is truly going on in their lives and engage in a dialog. Don’t let communication and relationships get lost in favor of a fa├žade. Engage with people. Build real relationships. Connect!

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