I remember when catching up with friends I haven’t seen in a while, they would update me about a big event in their lives and I’d respond “Yeah! I remember seeing that on Facebook.” They would bring something else up to which I replied “Yeah! I saw that on facebook too!”
Was it weird I was keeping up with what’s going on in people’s lives without having interacted with them?
I think what I was doing was technically considered stalking.
It was my turn to catch my friends up so I was trying to think about the most interesting things going on in my life to tell them.
For some reason, I felt like I had to impress them. Then a question popped up in my mind.
“When did friendship become less about connecting and more about showing off?”
You jump on social media and see one friend who went skydiving.
You read the comments:
“Wow! That’s so awesome!”
You see another friend who’s hanging out at a party with a well-known celebrity.
“How’d you meet him???”
You see another friend who travels all over the world to some of the most beautiful remote locations who just seems to be living life to the fullest. While you’re sitting in your pajamas at home at 9PM on a Tuesday night, you get an overwhelming sense of FOMO and find yourself thinking “Man, what am I doing with my life?”
Becoming a little jealous of your friends, you decide to start doing whatever you can to be able to post something worthy that can get other peoples acknowledgments as well.
You start posting up photos of your food. You decide to go out to a concert with your friends and you wait in line forever after the show to get a photo with the famous singer and think to yourself “I am definitely posting this up on Instagram”.
You refresh your feed over and over again as you see the notifications come in.
“Eleanor and 2 others liked your photo”
“John has commented on your photo ‘cool!’”
You keep refreshing your feed and the likes eventually stop coming in, and you’re a little disappointed because you didn’t get as much as you’d want.
So begins the journey of trying to hunt for more interesting things you can do to post about so you can get more acknowledgment in order to feel good about yourself.
The problem though is that you feel good for only a moment. You just get a temporary high. You’ve become an addict and now you’re feigning your next fix.
We now live in a generation where technology and social media has become an integral part of our lives.
I was in a coaching session with a prominent speaker once and he was talking to me about how his wife was doing extensive work as a consultant who specializes in working with millennials.
She landed a very high profile client who requested for her to make a video training course for their millennial staff.
I was shocked at what the request was.
They were looking for someone to teach their millennials things like how it was rude to stare at your phone when someone is talking to you.
They wanted to teach them a proper thing to do when being introduced to someone is to make eye contact and shake their hand.
The millennial staff did not have the softer skills of in-person human interaction because they mostly lived in a digital society.
Even a former Facebook executive has come out and said: “I think we have created tools that are ripping apart the social fabric of how society works.”
Millennials Are Experiencing a Lack of Environments That Cultivate Authentic Human Interaction.
I realized as I read my facebook feed, it was an illusion that made me feel connected to others when in reality, I really wasn’t.
It amazed me how much time I spent in a day staying updated about other people without ever having to talk to them.
What was even worse was I started comparing myself to others and for the most part, it just made me a little depressed.
When we look at what our friends are up to on social media, there are times it’s nice to see what’s going on with their lives, but the problem becomes when we start comparing ourselves with them and let it affect our identity.
Social Media Gives You the Illusion That Your Friend’s Lives Are Much More Exciting Than it Really is.
When people post about themselves on social media, most are filtering out the boring parts.
Have you ever seen those photos on the internet showing comparison photos of celebrities with and without their make up on? The differences are shocking enough to make you think “oh my Gosh, she is nowhere as beautiful as I thought she was.”
If you use social media to make yourself look better like these celebrities do, no one will ever see the real you. It’s even worse because no one will ever connect with the real you because they don’t know who that is in the first place.
We Are Hyperconnected Through Social Media, But We Are Losing The Environments That Produce Real Connections.
Think about when instant messaging first became popular. You are talking in real time, but you have the ability to delete and edit your responses before sending it. You have much more time to think about how you respond before you say anything.
Then came a whole array of apps like Instagram, twitter, and facebook that further enable us to edit ourselves to our liking before releasing anything to the world.
For me, social media was much more of a distraction rather than a connection. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing, but I definitely found myself distracted by it many times.
Every time I was with someone and I see a notification pop up on my phone, I couldn’t help but look at it. It was like an itch that needed to be scratched.
I’d only post about the good events going on in my life, but leave out all the rest. I knew it made me look much more interesting than I actually was.
When I didn’t get the number of likes I was hoping for, I realized it was unhealthy because I was measuring my self-worth based on a number.
As I struggled with my distractions from social media, I’ve come to realize what I was craving the most was great relationships. I have a strong feeling you are as well.
It is now a huge risk more than ever to be yourself. One wrong social media post can ruin your reputation. One bully can embarrass you in front of a whole online network of people you know. It makes total sense why people have their guard up and carefully craft their image online.
What happens when people see the real you? Will they still like you?
The truthful answer is we don’t know. They may still like you or they may not, but the real question is which would you rather have from others, acknowledgment of who you want to be or authentic connection with who you really are?
Real Connection Only Occurs When You Come From a Place of Authenticity and Vulnerability.
I wonder if during the times in my life I felt really disconnected from God, it was because I was out of touch with who I was. I spent so much time being a different person it became a shell that blocked me from connecting with Him.
My hope is we can start living lives where we edit ourselves less and express ourselves more genuinely.
When you have a quiet moment to yourself and you feel a sense of loneliness bubbling up, it may mean there is a lack of intimacy in your life.
Connected, a film I wrote and directed about social media addiction.
I hope my experiences inspired you as much as it inspired me to put our technological walls down.
The world would be so much better if we spent more time trying to connect with each other rather than trying to impress each other.
The courage it takes to be genuine and let yourself be seen can be uncomfortable, but wouldn’t it be worth the risk if you end up truly connecting?