Since the dawn of man, we have been social creatures. We crave the companionship of others, and we seek out those who understand us. Those with whom we can feel empathy, compassion, care, safety, and of course, love. Our grandparents sought it on the front porches of their home. And today, we seek it through the electronic platforms of social media. In the end, our craving for social media boils down to the same three things generations before us have craved.
We become “friends” on Facebook while we “follow” on Twitter and Instagram. We seek out similarly-minded people with whom we can share, laugh, and even commiserate.
However, our social media friendships differ between those of yesteryear in that they are often relegated to the superficial.
We’ve all seen the seemingly perfect lives of Facebook friends and felt lacking. Consider the photo of the smiling Mom, Dad, and 2.4 kids, plus the family dog who took the perfect family photo at the beach. Never mind that the picture was likely one of 73 photos taken and selected as the best of the options; never mind that Mom may have applied a filter or two, plus did a little creative photoshopping to remove a few inches from her hips; never mind that the kids probably walked away and straight to their own electronic devices as soon as the picture was snapped! A picture is a glimpse of a moment, not the reality of long-term. Yet we accept those moments as real and feel less worthy because we fail to measure up.
We bring comparison to our friendships and a need to show perfection when imperfection would make us far more relatable.
We all have a voice, and we want to be heard. Social media gives us a platform to talk. We share milestones and accomplishments. We share the awesome new recipe we just tried. And of course, we share our opinions, whether they are asked for or not. Our days of hoping to get a word in are gone. We have a platform, and we’re not afraid to use it.
However, our social media conversations differ between those of yesteryear because we’re now a whole lot more interested in talking than we are in listening.
We’ve forgotten that half of a conversation is about listening and we’re suffering for it. We’ve become me-focused, and when you learn that in 2016, Google reported that 24 billion selfies were uploaded, you realize how self-absorbed we’ve become. We are more interested in being right, and from the safety of a computer keyboard, we pound away in righteous indignation, not caring about the feelings of those on the receiving end.
And as such, we return to our previous topic and realize how much our friendships are suffering for lack of true, heartfelt conversation.
Long before CNN and Fox News battled for whose news was more accurate, and light years before “fake news” was an everyday term, the news was shared much differently. Journalists were held to a moral standard of reporting facts without interjecting personal opinion. Even 20 years ago, it was possible to get the news without questioning the reliability of it.
However, getting our news via social media new involves a filter of truth that wasn’t needed in yesteryear because now, we’re jaded and opinionated and we can’t simply absorb facts and create our own opinions.
Thanks to social media (and to be fair, the news channels themselves), you can now get your daily dose of world news with a heaping helping of opinion, whether you want it or not. And best of luck in trying to get to the truth.
We’ve forgotten the old adage about opinions and stories: There are three sides to every story. His, hers, and the truth. So before we accept our “news” for gospel truth, we must sift the opinions away from the facts before we can truly know what is going on in the world.
They say social media is a good thing. In many ways it is; it connects us to others around the globe and closes the distance and miles. It keeps us connected. But in many ways, it’s keeping us apart.
Consider the reality of social media. Recognize it for what it is. Realize that the grass isn’t always as green as it seems and that a phone call is more often than not the best way to have a conversation if you’re not able to have it in person. Remember that the news is not news, but it’s your responsibility now to find it for yourself.