Social media has made its way into our lives over the past decade and is now an undeniable part of the lives of most people I know and the clients I see in my private practice. With the expressed intention of social media purveyors being to create connection, is never fails to amaze me how much disconnection these sites are actually perpetuating.
Facebook’s Mission Statement:
Founded in 2004, Facebook’s mission is to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected. People use Facebook to stay connected with friends and family, to discover what’s going on in the world, and to share and express what matters to them.
Twitter’s Mission Statement:
To instantly connect people everywhere to what’s most important to them.
While linking up with old school classmates, long lost friends and family members can initially feel exhilarating, what happens once we’ve reestablished those bonds? And how much weight do we then give to those people on a daily or weekly basis to sustain our sense of connection? For some, their usage of social media fits perfectly within their lifestyle, and they feel that these sites provide them with a service that meets their needs; no more, no less. Meanwhile, others can finds themselves consumed by the maintenance of their online personas, or dealing with the compulsion to share or over-share in an effort to create or maintain positive feelings of engagement.
Many of us have found ourselves turning to our social media accounts multiple times throughout the day as a space filler/time killer, which seems harmless… until… that thing that once gave us warm, yummy feelings of friendship and support, stops delivering those sensations. Maybe posts don’t get same number of ‘likes’ or comments they once did, and those positive feelings are soon replaced by their opposites: self-doubt and disconnection.
For some, another of the most damning aspects of social media can also kick in: comparison. When the majority of the stories or images we see on social media perpetuate the idea that our peers are always traveling to exotic and interesting places, consistently enjoying quality time in seemingly apparent perfect relationships with loved ones or succeeding at ever-more of their ambitious and courageous life-goals, we begin to question: why not me?
Little do we realize that what we are seeing online are personas: well edited, photoshopped, finely tuned and filtered moments of time in the lives of others. Oftentimes, a rift occurs between what we are seeing online, and what what we are experiencing in our own lives. Disunion, anxiety and loneliness ensue. Shimi Cohen created the following video “The Innovation of Loneliness” which explores how, contrary to the purported aims of the social media giants, social media actually encourages loneliness.
Another problem I have found is that things on social media are not always as they seem. When a Facebook user with a personal profile or business page posts a status update, all of their friends or followers see that update, giving equal opportunity for all to engage with the posting user about their shared content, right? Wrong. Derek Muller explains the “shrinking numbers phenomenon” and what really happens when you share content on Facebook.
Are you using social media in a way that serves your Whole Self?