Wrote this article for my writing internship and wanted to share. Thought many would find it useful:
While many of us would be quick to deny just how much we rely on social media and the images of ourselves it portrays, the truth is that we are more invested in it than we realize. If you’ve ever felt lonely (and I’d like to meet whoever hasn’t and ask what their secret is), the following may shed some light on why that emotion keepings creeping up on you.
The video quotes a TED talk by Sherry Turkle on the connection between loneliness and social networking. She begs the question, if we are so connected then why do we feel so lonely? Fortunately, she provides us with a pretty mind blowing answer.
While we are connecting through online statuses, photos, text messages, etc., it all still isn’t enough to replace what truly and genuinely connects us all: in person conversation. These real interactions, where two people are physically in the same room together, have been replaced with technology, a more convenient but much less personal option. Unfortunately, most of us fear conversing in physical settings because we can’t control exactly what and who we want to portray and for this reason, feel especially comfortable via our laptops. Anyone who has sent a text or an e-mail knows that you can agonize for hours before getting it just right. We have a vision of what type of image we want our social media messages to portray and with modern technology, we can control a pretty good portion of that. But in person, we only have ourselves to hide behind.
Moreover, as they discuss in the video, we are replacing quality with quantity. Society has groomed us into believeing that hundreds of Twitter followers means that we truly aren’t alone. But how many of those Twitter followers do we actually have honest and real conversations with? A few, I’m sure, but the illusion that all our social network connections are the solution to our feelings of loneliness simply isn’t so.
The bottom line is that as humans, we are going to experience loneliness. It will happen numerous times over our lifespan. But the sad truth is that technology has provided us with a platform to falsely convince ourselves and our followers that we have absolutely nothing to be lonely about. We even go as far as faking experiences to portray the image of this unlonely human. Whatever it takes to ward off feelings of loneliness and to make it known to the online community, we will do it.
Unfortunately, the opposite of popular opinion is true: if we can’t be alone then we are inevitably going to be lonely. Holding on to a false sense of connection will only drag us deeper into loneliness and the worst part is that we think its doing the exact opposite. I’m not saying to delete your social network accounts and cease writing e-mails but be aware as to why you’re logging into your Facebook account twenty times a day (I know I have started to) and focus on strengething genuine in-person connections rather than hundreds of online, meaningless ones.