Social Media.....All that people appear to be?
Imagery is everywhere these days. From tattoos (both on bodies and designs on clothing) to piercings to hair style and color - image is a big part of self-expression - and nowhere is this more apparent than on social media.
You know what I'm talking about.
Profiles - everybody has one. And Pics and "cool" sayings? Yup! Everybody's 'em on their profiles too.
Wouldn't you love to have the life that many of your "friends" on social media seem to have? You know - always going on vacation, the coolest clothes, the best "moves," the coolest hobbies, the best diet, the best sayings and the best bodies.....you know what I mean, right?
So all this really begs the question.....
So are people all they appear to be on social media? Of course not!
Now that may seem obvious but let's dig a little bit deeper here.....
How many times do we fall into the trap of thinking that what people portray on social media is actually.....true? How many times to we run across someone's profile to see the quintessential "grand canyon overlook" shot or that perfect "selfie" in workout clothes whereas the person looks "perfect" and like they "have it all?"
The plain reality is that most of it is fake and is engendered to display a fake image. But people suck it up.....even to the point where it damages relationships and affects the self-confidence of the viewer.
But why is this so? Why do "average" people seem to feel the need to plaster their "page" of "cool" and "awesome" images of themselves to make themselves seem more accomplished and "awesome" than they really are?
Well folks, it is here that we explore some answers.....
Aren't I awesome?
The "Awesome" Life....
People on social media want their viewers to think that "they" have the "awesome life." These "cool" people want you to think that they are so "cool" that they are always partying and living the ideal life, so they plaster their "page" with them hanging with the "cool" friends, posting "modeling" shots of their head or body whereas they seem absolutely flawless, or attending some awesome event or doing some awesome thing.
But away from our social media accounts lurks stark reality. Away from our social media accouts lurks things like debt; broken relationships, sub-par jobs and ordinary "life." Yes.....beyond the "glamour" of social media lurks our ordinary lives, most of the time being no different from the lives of many others.
Its as if social media affords us the opportunity to appear glamorous without ever having to put in the long hours and years of hard work to achieve glamour and success. With social media, we can - at least appear to - have it "all" instantly!
But does seemingly everyone on social media really have such an awesome life? Are people really "awesome" all the time?
According to psychcentral.com, "We are conditioned to project only our best, albeit unrealistic, selves on our social media profiles as a modern way of virtually keeping up with the Joneses."
"Studies and personal experience" they go on to mention "reveal people tend to put their best foot forward while interacting on social media. Displays of emotional weakness, insecurity, or conflicts generally tend to be concealed or minimized on social networking sites."
In other words, social media teaches us how to be.....well.....phony.
Think about it; how many times have you seen the quintessential "duck face" or someone holding the camera in front of them so that the shot reveals their arms and face.....just like their friends and acquaintances - some of whom are their "friends" on facebook and a few of which are probably your actual friends?
But what impact does this have on the most important areas of our lives - especially on our friendships?
The Typical Grand Canyon Photo.....
Psychcentral notes that "with the rise of social media, there are concerns many people appear to be substituting virtual, online connections for real-life, social relationships."
And while we're on this topic, since when did people we don't even know become "friends" just by the click of the button?
And speaking of "friendships" that are "made" just by clicking a button, how does social media affect REAL relationships?
I was recently turned on to a USA Today piece which, in a nutshell, argued that “Just as our daily lives are becoming more technologically connected, we’re losing other more meaningful relationships. Yes, we’re losing our friends.”
Think about it.....due to social media, how many times have you been at dinner or lunch with someone sitting across the table from you thumbing away at their iPhone or Droid whilst they are supposed to be paying attention to you? How many times have you done the same? I know I have.....
Basically spoken, social media is like crack; highly addictive and very stimulating. According to Alex Pattakos of patimes.org, the "joys of real human contact are being replaced by electronic stimuli and “shallow” friendships, that is, “social connections” rather than the kind of true friendships described and espoused by Aristotle."
Aristotle, of course, argued that friendship is a single soul dwelling in two bodies.
But how does social media affect our real realtionsihps? Does it enable us to build actual friendships.....and how does it affect the ones that we already have?
Convinceandconvert has a rather.....well.....poignant point of view: "The pervasive time crunch that blankets us all has forced us to curtail face-to-face relationships in exchange for digital interaction. And in most cases, we’re willing converts, with Facebook’s ease-of-use and Twitter’s immediacy replacing letter writing and meeting up for lunch. As a result, we have both more and fewer friends than ever."
Basically, since we can all "connect" with friends on facebook, we often feel the need to spend less face-to-face time with our friends which diminishes relationships. In essence, our obsession with social media creates what I would refer to as a chronic loneliness. Social media tears up relationships. It disintegrates them. It turns people who once were adept conversationalists into mind-numbed robots, conversationally good for short bursts of verbal exchange(s) but not much else.
It replaces real relationships with "digital" relationships, taking place via photos, short videos, and short posts where people can "comment" on or "like" what you say - posting tidbits of conversation instead of calling to engage in real, meaningful conversation.
How many people do you know are so addicted to social media that they often cannot have an actual conversation?
Equally, how many do you know who often post on facebook but are almost impossible with whom to have a deep, meaningful relationship?
In her brilliant article "Two-Faced: How Social Media Is Turning Us Into A Fake Generation," Keena Alwahaidi of EliteDaily puts it this way: "The problem social media platforms have given us is we hide behind screens, allowing others to judge us for the lives we want them to think we have, the lives we portray online."
"It's easy enough to do. Why would you post a photo of yourself you think is unattractive?Or, even worse, post a photo of you and your friends engaging in an activity you don't need all 500 of your followers to see? (I'm referring to all of you Mickey-Mouse-hugging fans at Disneyland this summer.)There are two reasons why social media accounts further our ability to behave less genuinely than we do in person. The first reason, which I discussed above, is easy enough to spot.The second reason is hard to realize about ourselves, and here's where it gets all too real: The more you involve yourself with social media, the more you might grasp the fact that you have less tolerance for people.That's when it hits you: The people we hate continue to live on our feeds, and the sad part is, we let them.When they begin to “like” and “comment” on our photos, can we trust they truly like what we're giving them, or they want us to do the favor back."
See, genuineness cannot always be very well "read" or "determined" by reading a post or a comment whereas you did not hear someone's voice or see their expression or body language. In fact; if we "post" or "comment," we often feel insulted - sometimes personally - if the person who is the the intended audience does not respond or acknowledge. As well; as someone whom you dislike or can barely stand continues to post or comment on your page, it gives you more and more reason(s) to hate that person, sometimes that hatred spilling over into real life.
In short, social media does a lot to tear up relationships.
Sure social media can be a great way to find long lost friends and stay in touch with family - provided that such is the only way you end up using it.
But when we start to use it to perpetuate our own self-generated and overly inflated egos to make our "online" selves look like we are way cooler than we actually are, it creates, even amongst friends, jealousy, envy, and maybe even a little bit of malice.
So why do we continue to generate our "online" lives which, coincidentally, are often way different from real life?
According to Keena, "Maybe it's because we want to prove something. We want to show our friends that even though our lives probably aren't as interesting in real life, maybe we can create something cool online, instead."
Isnt the real point of friendship - aside from support, smiles, and laughter - to be, well, "real?"
Basically speaking, social media often has the effect of festering shallow relationships and, well, shallow people.
For the most part, social media harms relationships. There. I said it.
How to Heal.....
Social media, though it has some good uses, is basically killing our social society.
Whereas we used to socialize, we now send pics or quick messages. Whereas we used to have phone conversations, we "post" whenever it is convenient for us.
Whereas we used to give the person across the table (or couch) from us our undivided attention, that person must compete with our Facebook account(s).
Social media addiction is a chronic illness that is tearing apart our society. It is turning what used to be a society of people who cared about neighbors and others into narcissistic, self-serving people who care more about image than substance.
So.....is there any "cure?" Is there a way to reverse this downward trend?
1) Recognize that your phone or tablet has an off button. Use it. Set times during the night that your device will be powered off - and leave it that way until morning.
2) To the people in your life who have taken a back seat to your social media accounts - apologize
3) Unless its for work or to truly keep in touch with people who are a long ways away or your account is really necessary for your life, DELETE your account. Get rid of your facebook. Get rid of instagram. Get rid of Google +. You'll be a lot happier once all that extra "stuff" is out of your life.
We CAN take back our lives. We CAN restore our friendships - and create new ones by meeting people in person! We CAN increase our freedom in life by decreasing our "connectedness." We CAN choose to spend more time doing "real" things - spending time with family, exercising, playing sports, hiking, riding bikes, reading books, taking the dog out for a walk, going for a long drive with a friend, meeting up with a friend or taking our spouse out to a great new "hot" spot down town - and once we get a taste of the "freedom" that live without being attached to social media offers us, we will want more and more of it!