In a world where everyone’s lives are increasingly being documented online across multiple platforms it is expected that, due to being able to connect to so many people, we are becoming more sociable. But is that really the case?
Social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter allow us to connect with the people who are currently in our lives and also to keep in contact with those people who aren’t necessarily in our lives anymore but who we still want take an interest in. Any connections that would have been lost in the days before social media are now able to be maintained making our social circles much wider.
However, even though we can see these people who would have been lost to us before, how connected to them actually are we? We see what they choose to show to the world, be that photos or statuses about what they’ve been up to, and we may like these or leave a comment but what meaning does that really hold. We don’t have proper conversations with all of these people, we don’t really know what is going on in their lives.
The digital selves that people create can be compared to a ‘funhouse mirror’, as people put certain aspects of their lives into sharp focus but obscure others. People spend so much time curating a certain image of themselves to share with the world that it brings to question how much we really are connected with people we see on social media.
Instead of making us feel more social by seeing all of these people online, it can instead magnify loneliness in our lives. These people on social media that we follow be that influencers or old friends aren’t entirely tangible as we never get to meet them or talk to them in our real day to day lives. Once people disconnect from the endless world of social media and turn off all of those people available to them, coming back to reality all of a sudden can seem quite lonely. We are coming too dependent on our online friends as without them we might not feel as socially fulfilled.
In order to feel meaningful connections with people we need to go out and meet our friends and spend time with them. Whilst social media and messaging is good for quick connections they are never going to satisfy you as much as actually spending time with people. If you want to see someone then take the time to arrange to meet up, it doesn’t need to be for long, just a lunch or an evening where you can spend some time together will help start to combat feelings of loneliness.
People also don’t tend to call their friends anymore but it is honestly so much nicer to talk to your friends properly. I personally find it really hard to have proper serious conversations over messaging as it is difficult to say everything that you want to. I have started to ring one of my friends from uni every once in a while to catch up with her and I find it so much more fulfilling as we can properly talk about everything that has been going on.
Don’t allow yourself to become trapped in thinking that social media is the only way to be social by looking to create more and more potentially meaningless connections. Take the time to actually talk and see the people in your life who you really want to be with. Sometimes it is the few important people who will manage to make you feel less lonely than the millions of faceless people that you can meet online.