Depressed? Anxious? Lonely to the point of social starvation? Thirsty for connection?
The first place we tend to go is social media. Click that icon, open that app, and start surfing through the lives of others much more quickly and conveniently than driving to the park and pushing past social anxiety in order to strike up a chat with a stranger.
That’s considered weird these days, anyway. If a stranger approaches you, Dateline has taught us to pepper spray them and run for your life.
Whether you believe yourself to be above it or not (put your pinky down and push your halo back up; it’s slipping) social media is a wonderful place to visit if you want to hardwire your brain to compare yourself to others, to admonish yourself for not living up to the standards of others, and for not keeping the same supposed pace (I assure you it’s a mirage) as others.
It’s also a lovely place for misinformation, feeding bias, and subjecting yourself to the opinions of flawed people, just like yourself.
It’s a breeding ground for anger, disappointment, and sociopathy.
It’s a narcissist’s dream.
You can hand select, photoshop, and edit to your hearts content! Who do you want to be? Social media can make that happen with just a handful of sprinkled sugar-coated bullshit. It’s magical that way.
Hey look, now your profile says you own your own company, travel the world, and have property in Fiji. Oh, how interesting you must be!
I wonder how your mom upstairs feels about that while she cooks your dinner and asks if you’ve heard back from that manager at McNasties yet bc she’s 61 years old, did her time, and wants you out of her god damn house like yesterday, you lying sack of excrement.
Dad’s words, of course, not hers. She’s just cries in bed at night wondering where she went wrong.
Get your shit together, Frank.
“Oh, it’s not all that bad. It’s allowed the world to connect in such a way that has never been done before in recorded history!”
*raises eyebrow and sips my tea*
A select few do choose to accurately represent themselves by carefully selecting a balance of fluff and vulnerability; but because the vast majority don’t, we subconsciously disregard their efforts of transparency as more mere fluff.
It’s fun though, isn’t it? Hell, I met my ex-husband through MySpace way back in the day. (Shit, I just aged myself.)
Look, I’m all for it!
It’s a hell of a quick fix.
I love to mindlessly scroll just as much as the next guy or gal. It’s a fantastic time waster.
I live a thousand miles from *all* of my family and friends. Talk about disconnected. I’m the poster child. Social media permits me to post a picture of my growing children doing something ridiculous like throwing a tantrum because big sister put pickles on his cheese sandwich and “tried to poison him.”
(Yeah, that happened.)
Or when I colored my hair bright purple and wanted to profess my badassdom to the world; picture & post. Bam. Look how hardcore I am, world.
Or when Jack shot himself in the hand with that nail gun and wanted to show us all the gore. Bam. Posted. We all applaud your idiocy and strength for having the wherewithal to pick up your god damn cell phone with your good hand and take a god damn picture *before* calling the god damn ambulance, Jack. You owe it all to social media; otherwise, it’s just a story you can’t back up.
(Well, of course, unless we go back to the point-and-click cameras; but that would require using up the rest of the film, driving to the drug store to get developed, then waiting a day or two for them to process.
(We were so barbaric, weren’t we? How did we even live like that? Savages.)
Social media is absolutely fucking fannntastic for marketing purposes. I mean like hands-down holy-fucking-grail for marketers. I dabbled in social media marketing for years awhile back, and let me tell you – it’s a god send. Pay Facebook a few bucks and wahhbam. Your post can reach hundreds of thousands of people across the country, or even world if you so choose.
It’s a heaven send for nosey Nellie’s and the stalker community alike. We can simply type the name of our old high school crush into a search bar and instantaneously find out he’s divorced with four kids, beer gutted, and balding.
Want to know if that new employee you’re considering hiring is what he/she says he/she is? Look ‘em up. They say it’s a no-no, but c’mon. Don’t be naive. You bet your ass your photos were flipped through before you got that call back.
Want to know if that hot UPS delivery guy is married? Type in his first name, which you remember not from actual conversation, but from his name sewn on his uniform, plus “UPS” because we all list our places of employment like that’s not an invasion of privacy or anything… hey look! He’s gay! Didn’t see that one coming. His boyfriend is cute though. Good for them.
I broke free from it for a few years. It was a time in my life where things were moving, changing; progressing. I didn’t have time to stick my nose in the business of others, nor did I have the need for it. My energy was fully concentrated on my move across the country, finding a new job, and finding somewhere to live.
Once I was settled, however, my need to connect overwhelmed me and I rejoined.
I, like most adults this day in age, feel I am lacking true connection in my life.
I’m currently robbed of the things we take for granted such as deep conversation (or any conversation at all, really), chemistry (not necessarily between opposite sexes; this applies to the same sex chemistry of pure friendship as well), and the spark that is lit within our souls when we find another human being we can be vulnerable with and experience their beautiful, raw, unabashed vulnerability in return.
Pot helps, but I try to smoke in moderation so… in walks social media: the world’s latest addition to the list of unhealthy addictions we can pick from.
It’s a fantastic place to connect in such a way that you know what your best friend from fifth grade’s children look like. Hell, you even know what she does for a living now, that her mother passed from cancer four years ago, and she has a passion for posting memes about her own unacknowledged alcoholism (of course disguised as simply being a trendy wine-drinking mother).
It’s a great place to find out what people *really* think about politics; the side they choose and how clingy they’ve become to it is a tell-tale characteristic of their mental stability as they’ve aged; and, let us not forget to mention what an ideal place social media is for us to misinterpret, misjudge, and just all around falsely presume we know everything there is to know about someone by their posts.
When I worked at an electronics company which was a leader in its industry, my boss Michael used to say, “At least 99% of feedback is negatively driven. Most people don’t pick up the phone to call in compliments; they do it because they’re pissed off.”
Same applies for social media.
Generally speaking, people don’t open up and start posting to social media when all is right in life. People open up social media when they are simply bored, looking to vent about whatever ails them, looking for funny memes to cheer them up, and of course when we feel that lonely, familiar disconnect from humanity… we just want to connect with someone.
Whether it’s through leaving a comment on a post or attempting to strike a conversation.
We. Want. Connection.
Connection is a basic human necessity just as oxygen, water, food, and sleep. We need to feel seen. Heard. Noticed. Loved.
We need to know we aren’t alone.
Whether it’s completely subconscious or not, I promise you this is exactly why you open that app.
Assume the position of an observer the next time you do it.
What were you feeling in that moment leading up to it?
Boredom? (Boredom is a symptom of loneliness; disconnection. For if we have someone to connect with in that moment, we cannot be bored.)
Don’t judge yourself harshly.
In fact, don’t judge yourself at all.
Just continue to stay in the role of the observer and notice while scrolling the things that catch your attention. Why do they catch your attention? Are they feeding your isolation by reminding you how lonely you are, or are they nourishing your soul by helping you to feel truly – not falsely – connected to other human beings.
False connection can be harmful, but like a drug, it’s a convenient quick-fix. Used long-term, however, it can be detrimental.
A destroyer of connection.
When we spend all day on social media and none outside talking face-to-face with other human beings we are rewiring our brains to feel that false connection is sufficient.
Ugh, especially through all of this lockdown coronavirus bullshit.
Our souls know better.
Listen to your soul.
What’s it telling you?