Social Media - friend or foe?

Short warm up to get over some writing block, as well as convey my feelings about using social media.

This might be viewed as a rant, but I do strongly feel that while social media is designed to be beneficial, it does increasingly isolate us. And we, as a society, should be emphasizing and repairing our human/personal connections with each other.

Like, comment, like, comment, like..


When we hear the term "social media", most of us think of things like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. And that's not surprising -  there are approximately 1.44 billion monthly active users on Facebook, a platform that was designed to keep us "connected" with our friends and family. Sounds ideal, no? (and is a big improvement over its predecessor MSN messenger....yes I'm that old).

So the other day I found myself going through my Facebook and reflecting on why I still use it. It seems unless you want to "fish" for likes using stuff people always like and comment on (birthdays, selfies, exciting stuff, etc), most people don't care about you or what you're doing. It's strange at times...I have 264 friends on Facebook, and yet at times I've never felt lonelier. Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against any of my friends. Rather, since many of them are people who pass from my life briefly and/or live in a different country, the "connection" between us seems really fake and non-existent. And as years pass, it seems harder and harder to rebuild that connection you once had.

I'm sure I can't be the only one who feel this way.

So why do we do social media, and why is it so integral to our everyday lives? Well, I've been trying to figure this out and I honestly don't know. One possibility is that I think we all crave human interaction deep down, but are afraid to do it in person (or at least my generation, the millennials, have been so accustomed to computers and the internet). Or is it, as technology and our society push us to move ever faster doing stuff with greater speed, we forget to slow down and take a moment for ourselves and each other?

Regardless, I think it's damaging to replace the imperative of human relationships with "likes" and "comments". People can be there for the rest of your life, helping you to celebrate the good times, and comforting you in the bad times. Facebook/other social media can't.

I hope I don't sound too weird writing this. It just seems that coming from a continent (Europe) where people's culture, in many places, is to sit down and dine with each other for about 3-4 hours a meal (for the sole purpose of enjoying each others' company), America, at times, seems very intense with a culture of "facebook friends, but no real connection underneath". Similarly, Europe taught me the importance of making deep connections...some of the people back in Britain I regard as my brothers for life.

So I worry - coming from someone who loves to have friends around, with 264 facebook friends, I've never felt so lonely :(

The End

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