Whether you are a teenager, parent, aunt, uncle, or grandparent, you likely participate in, or have at least heard of, some form of social media. From Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and many, many others, the options for socialization through the lens of the virtual world are endless. On the surface, and when used wisely, social media is a good thing. It helps connect people in ways we never even thought possible 20 years ago. No more having to get a picture printed and sent off in the mail to Aunt Susie; just upload the picture to her Facebook timeline. No more spending hours on the phone calling your loved ones with big news; just post your news on Twitter or in your Snapchat story. All of these time savers keep us connected with our family and others from across the globe, people we might never have seen again or ever have met, if not for social media. So, it’s a good thing, right, or is it?
With all of the good social media does to keep us connected with family and friends both near and far, social media has many pitfalls. While I’m certainly no expert on this topic, one pitfall I’ve fallen prey to is the illusion that social media has created in terms of my relatedness to others. I see frequent social media status updates, tweets, videos, and photographs from the people in my life, and in doing so, I realized that I had come under the false impression that because I see these updates I “know” what’s going on in their lives. But in reality, I didn’t know anything. I was missing so much!
Think about it! The virtual connection we have to people is replacing a tactile one. We only know what people post virtually. There is no looking in their eyes, no reading of their body language, or hearing the tone in which something is said. Instead of seeing people in person, we see them in pictures, and of course never a bad picture at that! We’ve all created this perfect virtual version of ourselves and no one ever gets to really know the real us. It’s sad. How can we expect a typed, “I love you” to replace a hug or even a telephone call?
Maybe what this comes down to is effort. Yes, the opportunity to be connected virtually is a wonderful thing, but it should not ever be a substitute for spending time talking with our friends and family, and making the effort to really know who they are beyond what we see on computer screen. Give up scrolling through your Facebook newsfeed to see how cousin Ann is doing and pick up the phone and call her instead. It is so simple, and by doing so, you teach those around you to do the same.
Our world needs to be more related, and it is up to us to make that happen. Put down your smart phone, walk away from the computer, and actually talk to people. Get related to the people around you and stop relying on a Facebook post to tell you what’s going on in the lives of those you care for most. We aren’t meant to live our lives isolated, behind a computer screen. Go ahead and “love” the latest picture of your niece on Facebook and share your big news on Twitter, but call and say, “Congratulations!” too, or ask, “How are you?”
The extra effort will not only mean a great deal to the person on the receiving end, but it will also build stronger relationships and bonds with those you care for most.
“Technology will not make you happy. The people it connects you with will. Do not confuse the two.” ~Anonymous~
Just a thought.