Is Social Media the new lonely?



I’ve spent a lot of time on social media the last few years blogging, tweeting, etc.  As I was reflecting on this, I ran across Christina Carson’s Caleb and Linda Pirtle blog today.

I think Christina nailed it, and I urge everyone to read what she had to say.

My own thoughts are driven by two recent revelations outside of Christina’s observations.

First is what I have seen on the street, in the malls, and everywhere else people gather.

People have their heads buried in their cell phones and are oblivious to their surroundings.  It is as if nothing exists except what Voltaire might have called the private garden of social media.

Really.  Is Facebook all there is?

The notion that social media is social is one of those strange ironies that develops around new technology.  While it may have been created to bring people together, in practice social media as a whole isolates persons into small discreet groups from which they seldom if ever stray.

Social media elevates the tribe over the community and rather than teaching us new things and introducing us to new people entrenches us into our own way of thinking.   A person who spends all her time on social media is hard-pressed to encounter a thought that challenges her already-established world view.  To the extent we search for new people, we search for those like us.

The other observation came from my middle daughter whose first child is thirteen months old.

As we were sitting around the living room this holiday, the child kept grabbing for my wife’s cell phone.

“I’m trying to keep her away from all that social media stuff,” my daughter said.

That’s my daughter who is part of the social media generation, one of those generation x-sters who has grown up with cell phones and Facebook accounts and all that jazz.

“I’ve read some things that say it’s better for a child not to get caught up in social media, at least for the first couple of years while she is learning about the world,” my daughter added.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Genuine interactions with people require more than a keyboard and an anonymous profile.  Things that enrich our lives come from personal study and reflection, from reading books about the eternal verities of life, from talking with others who have been tested in the fires of experience, maybe even had their hair singed off in those blazes.

Social media is the new lonely.

Authentic human interaction is still the thing.

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  • I think you can use social media to be more lonely – or less. It comes back to who you are.

    The people I’ve met online, and have spent time with agonizing over an illness, are just as real as the ones in my support group – and far more available.

    You can’t keep up these personas for a long time – and why would you? You’re going to be different in an online group than in one whose members meet in the library of the local hospital – but because of the timing, not the people. The same as you’re different in the presence of the President than you are at the grocery store.

    I thought we were getting farther an farther apart as the world got more and more people in it, but it hasn’t been like that – the world I live in is tighter because of new technology than it was twenty years ago, when I had no idea where the girls I went to Girl Guide camp with were. Now some of us know – one of us started a FB group, and, if you belong, you can go hear me sing all the old camp sons I knew.

    It’s up to you how to use it. It’s cheap – and available 24/7.

  • I agree that social media – or even online groups, such as Yahoo groups – can replace real interaction if you’re not careful. But I survived and finally left an abusive marriage because of online friends. There were things I couldn’t tell “real” people. Over the years, those women became sisters, and I can’t imagine my life without them, even though I’ve only met a couple of them in person. People I’ve met on Facebook – and only on Facebook – have literally changed my life. I don’t think throwing out internet connections is a valid answer. You just have to use some common sense online.
    I do find it a little odd that your daughter is worried about your 13mo granddaughter being on social media. What could she possibly know about social media? Most people are just worried about their kid playing Angry Birds too much on their phone.

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