Is it true? Social media makes lonely?
But, perhaps not?
John joined Facebook in 2011. He was a guy who never had a ton of friends but Facebook changed that. John now has over 700 friends. Every time he posts something many people like and share his posts. So much love for John.
Patricia lives on Instagram. People love her travel pictures. Each of her posts receives between 300 and 900 likes. Sometimes people ask her how they can become as popular.
Andrew has been single ever since his beloved wife died back in 2012. He is a shy guy and never got back into the dating game. That has changed. He now has a profile on three different singles sites.
How social media makes us lonely
The ideal persona
Most of us are not honest on social media. Even our supposedly authentic sounding posts are scripted. We create a persona of how we want to be perceived.
Some days it’s enough for us that people like our photoshopped Instagram picture. After all, it took us two hours to put on all of that makeup, choose the right outfit and make it look really casual. Nobody knows that it took us 113 tries to get one good picture.
Then there are these days where we wonder what people would think about us if they knew how we really looked. Or if they knew that we’ve never been to all of those exciting places. Those dark days when we realize that we paid for 15,000 of our followers. We don’t even know if they are real and human.
Even though we became masters at photoshopping and playing the system, we sometimes envy others. For their great looks, for all of the exotic places they visit and finally the thousands of followers they have.
Pretending to be something we’re not and envying other people who pretend to be something they are not can leave us pretty empty.
We’re constantly competing with others. For likes, for shares, for followers.
No pain, no change
By far the biggest problem I see with social media is that it takes the pain away. It provides an illusion.
The single woman feels as if she could schedule 20 dates within the hour.
The Instagram star feels that she finally receives the love and appreciation she was longing for.
The shy guy finally doesn’t have to mingle anymore because he now has hundreds and hundreds of friends.
Reality check: neither of those people is fully satisfied. They still feel that something is missing from their lives. The illusion is taking some of the pain away. Just enough to take away the need for change.
Could we call your social media friends at 4 AM in case of an emergency? Do we even have their number?
Would we help them in case of an emergency? Or would we just like and share their post when they report a personal tragedy.
How many of our social media friends would notice if you were missing? And of those who would notice it: how many would take action that goes beyond writing a post that they haven’t heard from you in a long time?
Research has shown that people feel more lonely when they use social media for a certain time. But it’s with the chicken and the egg. What was there first? People who feel lonely tend to spend more time on social meda. And that then adds to their problem.
It’s 2017 and social media is here to stay. Facebook might be the next dinosaur to die, just like MySpace, but new sites will pop up.
The best thing we can do for ourselves is to remind us what’s real and what’s not. As long as we understand that social media connections cannot replace real life friends, we’re good.
Some of the people we are connected to live too far away. But we could try to carry over some of our connections into a real-life relationship.
We can also try to use social media mainly to nurture existing real-life contacts.
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