Facebook is Making Us Lonely..And This is Why

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.


The Reason I Broke Down Today in My Therapists’ Office For the First Time EVER (and I’m guessing you would have too)

Hi my fellow floaters!

Today I cried in my therapists’ office after 3 ½ years of never shedding a tear. Since I began seeing her, we have covered some heavy, emotionally charged subjects. It’s always stirred up emotions (as that is what therapists’ are trained to do, I suppose) but I’ve never been as openly emotional as I was today.

The reason?

Pears. Yes, discussing pears made my lip quiver and caused tears to stream down my face. But obviously there was a lot behind this discussion of pears.

So I wanted to share with you what was truly upsetting me at my core because I think you’ll all be able to relate.

I started a nanny job this past Monday. I decided after graduating with my masters a few weeks ago that I would get a temporary summer nanny gig until I figure out what on Earth to do with my life. So I started working for a VERY well off family who certainly have expectations but I wouldn’t necessarily say they are unreasonably high.

The problem is that with all their money comes a lot of high tech gadgets. For example, I drive the same make/model car as them but while mine is a 2004, theirs is a 2014. It was like operating a space shuttle, I’m telling you. I’ve never seen anything so high tech.

So I have had to learn new things.

The problem?

I want to start a job and be PERFECT at it from day one. I expect myself to know how to do it all. I shouldn’t be confused. If they ask me to do something, I should know how to do it.

As I type that I realize how insane it is. I expect a lot of myself and when I don’t know how to do something, I will feel incompetent or just plain dumb.

So the biggest example of this came today. The mom asked me to puree some pears. To us normal folk, this would mean cut up some pears, throw them in the blender, and press start (atleast, that’s how my $20 Target blender tells me it should be).

Instead, she pulls out from the drawer this insane device that she had only briefly explained to me how to use the week before.

I was clueless. But expected myself to figure it out. After an hour and a half of dissecting the stupid thing and even googling how to use it, I gave it up. Nothing was worth putting myself through this much anxiety, not even pureed pears

When the dad came home, I asked if there was a simpler way to do it and showed him how I had been doing it

I don’t think he meant his response to be rude, but it cut me to my core. I read his response to say that I was the exact thing I was afraid of being: incompetent.

I tried to laugh it off with him but it bothered me. All the pressure I had put on myself to get everything right, not to mention the anxiety it provoked, and I get a response like THAT??

So as I began to tell this story to my therapist, a lump in my throat began to form. I realized at that moment just how much WEIGHT I was carrying. I expected myself to know how to use something without mistakes when I’m guessing 95% of the population would be clueless what to do with it as well. And when I couldn’t do it, I attributed that to being…well, frankly, an idiot.

As 20-somethings, I think we expect ourselves to get it right. Whether it is career, relationships, finances, friends, etc., we feel we need to take the uncertainty out of it. No one wants to be left wondering where their relationship is going or what the right job is that they need to land.

And yet, we wonder this stuff ALL OF THE TIME. Just as I wanted to properly operate that stupid puree machine, we all want reassurance that we are doing it correctly. Getting that degree, landing that internship, getting engaged to Mr. Perfect- we just want to know that we aren’t screwing it up.

But guess what? We’re going to make mistakes anyway. We can try to be perfect at our lives but we won’t, so why not take that pressure off ourselves? I can expect myself to know how to operate a new vehicle aka a rocket ship without any questions but ultimately I’m going to wonder how to turn the stupid thing on. Why can’t we be comfortable with NOT knowing?

I really wish I could end this article with the answer to that question. But if I had it, I wouldn’t have started this blog. Or met any of you! 🙂

Moral of the story: learn to be comfortable with not knowing. And with not being perfect. Thinking you have or need to know all the answers just isn’t realistic and can make you MISERABLE. I truly believe that at the root of suffering is a desire to be better than what you already are. I say let’s give ourselves a break and stop expecting perfection. Drop the weight you’re carrying and accept where you are, at this moment. AT THIS MOMENT.

Hope this resonates 🙂