Do you ever feel like social media, like Facebook and Twitter, might be killing more friendships than it’s saving?
Every day I wake up and think about shutting down my social media accounts. It’s gotten to the point that getting on Facebook makes me feel physically nauseous. I worry about everything I do and say and who’s status I comment on and… the list goes on. It’s exhausting. The only thing that stops me is: I’ve had Facebook my entire adult life. Since my freshman year of college. It scares me to think about shutting it down and losing touch with so many people. But, would I really be missing out?
Last summer my high school graduating class held our 10 year reunion. I thought about attending, but ultimately decided not to. Why would I attend a reunion when I can keep up with everyone I went to school with on Facebook. Hell, I know what half of my high school friends had for dinner last night.
That’s a little sad though, isn’t it? I mean, do we really want to know this much about each other? Do we really want to know that so-and-so’s kid has a cold or what he/she’s making for dinner?
We think we do. We think others want to read that stuff about us. But, really? About ten years ago, we would have found it crazy/narcissistic to know/broadcast this much about each other.
I’m just as guilty as anyone. The words of love and support from my FB friends when I’m feeling under the weather bring a smile to my face. I love having the Facebook world for my parenting and health questions when I have a quick question. It makes me feel like I’m part of a community. The thing is, it’s not real. Facebook friends (as in the people I met once in a class in college or at a conference) should not replace real life friends and family.
It’s a little scary to me the things people deal with publicly. There used to be some sense of privacy and propriety. When something sad happened to a person or their family, it was private. They took it in, notified the people closest to them, and really worked through the feelings and pain rather than exploiting the hurt for attention and the almost drug-like “high” it brings (thank you Oxytocin). I’ve been to the hospital with my toddler twice. Both times were life threatening, very scary situations. Who knows the details of those visits? My family and close friends. I never even thought to post it on Facebook because the only people I want to know something like that are the people I love.
I understand that everyone’s different and I realize that in some ways it’s good. No one wants to feel alone in scary situations. That and the generosity I’ve seen between people who don’t know each other at all is amazing. But, at what point does it go too far? At what point are we spending so much time broadcasting our lives over the internet that we forget who really matters? How many real friends, who knew the real us, have we lost because they said or did the wrong thing? Or how many friends have we hurt because we didn’t include them in something we posted on FB?
Yes, I’m in touch with so many people I would otherwise have lost touch with. Friends from all the way back to elementary school. But are we really in touch? Or do we just keep tabs on each other. Quietly watch status updates and pictures and feel connected? Am I really getting to know these people I’m keeping up with? What we put up online is a glorified, perfected, and edited version of ourselves. It’s so much easier to love someone who always says the right thing at the right time.
If tomorrow you get on Facebook or Twitter or Google + and I’m not there, don’t take it personally. I do care about your life and I want to spend more time really connecting with and investing in it. Because, quite honestly, I feel like I’ve fallen short too much lately. I need to spend some time relearning how to be a good friend and I’m taking notes from my dog.