Social media has quickly become synonymous with greater connectivity. With a simple click or swipe we are able to connect to hundreds (if not thousands) of people, some of which we have known since elementary school and others we’ve never even met in person but share enough interests with to have crossed each others virtual path. On the surface we may seem more interconnected than ever before, but this video put together by Shimi Cohen shows us that when it comes to interaction, quantity does not trump quality. More importantly, social media may be the leading cause as to why we are instead more lonely than we have ever been before, check it out:
The video itself was done as a final project for a college, but is based on both the words of Sherry Turkle at a recent Ted Talk entitled ‘Connected, But Alone,’ and Dr. Yair Amichai-Hamburgers hebrew article ‘The Invention of Loneliness.’
For me as a viewer, there were a number of points made within this video that really stood out as memorable and/or impactful. The first to really hit me was that we are seemingly inherent social beings yet we live in a world that not only actively promotes but even celebrates individuality. Individual success -that perhaps ripples out into one’s immediate family -is the primary goal of so many of us and can often push us to a point where we will either completely neglect or even negatively impact another solely for our own benefit. Yes, there are obvious exceptions such as team work projects or even organized team sports, but even within those seemingly connected activities, individual productivity and statistics are not only measured but celebrated.
The next concept to really stand out was the reminder of the common thought that “time = money” and how much we let that govern our everyday life. The more we are pressured and expected (both internally and externally) to achieve more and more, the more compelled we are to judge and value everything that we do. This can often lead to us putting only certain things in the classification of being deserving of our full attention, while everything else is expedited as much as possible. This, as the video pointed out, is where social media steps in as the ultimate ‘expediter’ of interaction, using quantity to trick us into believing we not only have an active social life but also that we have a lot of friends. Think about it, how many of your Facebook friends do you actually stay in close communication with? If you’re lucky, it’s probably at max 150 of them (again from the video), and of those 150, how many actually know you for who you truly are?
This leads me to the next point of the video that really stood out for me which is the security and comfort that comes with online social media -or as the video stated “the ability to edit.” Unlike face-to-face communication, social media gives us all the opportunity to shape how we are presented with the hopes of that becoming how we are perceived. We use favorite pictures, thought out responses, witty humor and so much more to create an optimal version of ourselves that as flattering as it may be, is most often not the most accurate a representation of who we truly are.
The end result: a widely connected but in fact totally disconnected state of humanity.
In my opinion, the challenge now becomes for us to ensure that we don’t let social media become the only form of socialization that we not only practice but also appreciate. We can continue to use it for the incredible tool that it is, but only as our truest selves and not as an edited online identity. It’s time for us to embrace who we truly are, reconnect with one another through conversation (and not just through a like or share), and we might just find ourselves a little less lonely.
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