In our society where the future is now and the surge towards online forms of communication is stronger than ever, it’s important we create space to mindfully think about the effect social media has on face-to-face interaction, as well as our overall wellbeing. Does the increasing use of social media hinder social interaction and breed antisocial behaviour? Or, has a strong online presence helped us to better connect with people who share like interests, making it easier to collaborate on both a work and personal level? And most importantly, do these platforms, intended to bring us together actually make us lonely?
Sociological research has proven that humans have a capacity to recognize up to 150 faces, thus we are incapable of creating relationships with people past this threshold. What is interesting about this is in our media driven society, digital platforms push us to “collect friends like stamps” and focus on generating quantity over quality. We are in turn, substituting meaningful and genuine conversations with online chats, the exchanging of photos and communicating with others in 140 characters or less. These actions are slowing hindering natural face-to-face communication while many of us view conversing online “safer” and “easier.” We must ask ourselves if our online persona has contributed to social anxiety and insecurities. Is our natural order of humanity becoming skewed when people would prefer to connect via Facebook rather than meeting for a coffee or picking up the phone?
It’s hard to deny the personal satisfaction we receive when we achieve a page share, an acceptable amount of likes or a retweet of our thoughts, however, this heavy focus of online personal promotion has bread a generation looking to their social media profiles for validation, creating both insecurities and vulnerability in the areas of our live we wish to celebrate. Furthermore, these platforms have acted as a catalyst to be ever connected to our peers instead of focusing on the present moment. This has escalated notions of wanting to capture that perfect image or update a catchy status instead of actually listening to your favourite song at a concert, or enjoying a meal with your friends. Instead of trying to create a desirable image of what we want to be viewed as online, we must make the most of our time before it passes us by.
We must learn to seek validation from our own actions and creative outlets instead of scrolling through what our peers are doing. The green-eyed monster of social comparison is stronger than ever. The ability to scroll through your news feed and see what your hundreds of Facebook peers are doing on a Friday night has contributed loneliness becoming a cause of anxiety and depression in this generation, creating a paradox as these social media sites, intended to bring us together, have actually made us more lonely. This infamous article on just that courtesy of The Atlantic gets into the heart of this phenomenon.
Based on the need to actually detach from social media in favour of creating meaningful relationships online, only to bring them offline, is the principal on which we founded Elletourage (you can sign up, here!)
Next time you’re scrolling through Instagram at your parents dinner party, or uploading photos while having drinks with friends, remember to be intentional about turning off your phone and getting the most of your time with the people immediately in your life. Social media can wait, and these are the people whom you make time for in your busy schedule, and vice versa. So put down your smart phone, and stay present and truly connected.