I have a love-hate relationship with social media. Not really love-hate, but more of an internal struggle of social need vs personal disinterest.
Now before I delve into my personal view of social media, I will say that I understand why people like it and that it serves as a platform to stay in touch with family and friends that live far away, learn about exciting events in your city and keep an archive of photos from your life as a living timeline.
But there is a reason why I do not keep it on my phone, and why I will be taking a year-long hiatus from Instagram to test if it makes a difference in my personal happiness.
Here is where it gets deep. I am mostly going to focus on Instagram and Snapchat, because I think Facebook has some redeeming qualities and can actually show several dimensions to a person.
So how does social media silently kill meaningful human connection?
It is one dimensional. It is a view of another person’s life through a single lens with a single filter, which that person gets to selectively choose for you to see his/her life through.
People spend their time comparing the holistic view of their life to the highlight reel of others. Social media does not tell you about that person’s personality, life goals, or life struggles. It is shallow – not even “ankle deep in water” shallow.
I could not tell you how that one girl from my dorm floor is actually doing, if she actually likes her job or if her and her boyfriend are actually happy – but I always throw her a like on her Instagram posts!! Doesn’t that mean we are close??? The answer is no. I don’t know anything substantial about her. Here is a test: Pick a random person you follow and write down his/her biggest passion, favorite hobby and the thing her/she struggles with the most with every day. Can you do it??? I bet most people can’t.
One dimensional. One lens. One filter.
No one ever says how they REALLY feel and often do things in order to get a great Instagram post, or make things they hate doing seem like it is the most exciting thing ever.
Phrases like “do it for the ‘gram” and “phone eats first” and “OMG I need this pic for my insta” are commonly heard and, now, socially acceptable phrases in our society. THAT IS SO SAD. Why do we have to take pictures with the intention of it being posted on Instagram? Oh, and if it isn’t the perfect picture, you should expect to be there for another hour making sure the photo captures their “good sides”, their fake laughs look “authentic” enough, and it has the perfect lighting (Don’t forget the flash!! Are you crazy??).
Seriously though, it could be the lamest party of the year, no one is having fun, but there will still be that group of girls fake laughing and acting like it is the absolute best time of their lives, all captured in THE photo…you know what I am talking about: the one from the perfect angle, in front of the most aesthetically-pleasing wall, with the most ~hilarious~ caption, and a filter that makes the account owner look STUNNING, whether her friends look good or not.
You are either laughing in relation to my frustration/annoyance with this, or you are sitting here reading it like “wait…that’s me” – either way, I accept you. Again, this is just my take on social media.
People use it as their only means of keeping in contact with other people, which ultimately causes them to lose true connection and understanding of those people.
Pick up the phone. Call your friend and have a real conversation with them. Instead of just liking your best friend’s photo, call her and ask her how her day was and what her new friends are like. It is honestly incredible how much it helps with combating loneliness and tough times when you hear a close friend’s voice or hear them laugh over the phone.
One of my best friends from high school has a very complicated family situation, but you would never know from her social media or interacting with her in passing – why? Because she is so positive and would never unload her struggles onto other people. This is why I call her. I want to talk through the struggles in her life with her so that she feels supported and relieved knowing there is someone else to bare her pain with her.
Call the people who matter, because you will feel a lot closer to them and your relationship will have deeper meaning than the surface level “keeping in contact” you have from scrolling through your Instagram timeline. You do not need social media to stay in contact with the people who matter; and you shouldn’t have to use it as a means of staying in contact.
You should make the effort to text them wishing them good luck on the exam or interview they have been working so hard on. You would know about these life events if you called them to have a real conversation with them. Life is busy, work is crazy, travel is tiring, but at the end of the day, you make time to stay in contact with the people who matter.