Social Media Creates a False Reality

There is the good, the bad and the ugly side of social media. The good side is our ability to interact with people ALL over the world, and for the most part, not spend a lot of money doing it. I remember the days before social media when I had to pay for every cell phone minute I used when I was dating my husband. I would use the disposable cameras at our wedding to capture all the candid moments. I would receive 20 phone calls on my birthday from family and friends. Now our phones do more than just call. They enable us to connect with hundreds, even thousands of people.TechFamilyThe number of social networks that I maintain is astonishing: 2 email accounts, 2 Twitter accounts, a Facebook personal profile, 3 Facebook pages, 10 Facebook groups, Linkedin, Google+, Google+ page, Instagram, etc. I consider myself a social person. I love how social media makes the world smaller, but I have believed a lie that interacting with more people is better than interacting with fewer people. After some introspection lately, I’m no longer convinced. The reality is that people online have no idea who I really am, and at the same time, I don’t know who people online really are.

When is the last time that you confided in someone online? I know I haven’t. I pick up the phone and call my close friends. I go to coffee and chat. Do the people online really know you? Have you ever met them? Would you invite them to your house, or introduce them to your spouse or your kids? Social media gives us a feeling of intimacy and closeness that doesn’t actually exist. We believe all these people online are our friends. We think these people really care about our lives and are invested in it.

I am not saying that social media is ALL bad, as I consider some of these people to be friends, and I’m thankful that social media has brought them into my life. I have some great stories of lost connections that I found via Facebook and Twitter exchanges that grew into a real-world friendship. But these situations are not as common as I would like them to be. If I would not be willing to get to know these people in real life, I am wasting my time building large networks of shallow relationships. I could use my time more wisely by deepening a few precious friendships with people upon whom I can truly rely.

In summary, social media is not bringing us closer together. In fact, it may be driving us farther apart, as we know more and more people, but know less and less about each of them. As I turn a year older, I am going to focus more on building stronger relationships with a few real friends and less on how many people are in my social networks.

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