How Social Media Robs Us Of Genuine Connection

social media

Less is more.

You’ve probably heard that saying before. It rings true for so many things. Dessert, your kids’ toys, your wardrobe. I’ve written before about how an abundance of options makes it harder to choose one thing, thereby making it so that we sometimes choose nothing at all.

I’ve recently begun to apply this idea to social media. Technically, we are more connected than ever before. If I want to reach out to someone, I can choose between a text, an email, a Facebook message, a Snapchat… the list goes on and on.

Instant access to our loved ones is always right at our fingertips.

Knowing that I can reach out to my friend at anytime can make it easy to put it off until tomorrow, or next week. My ability to talk to her isn’t going away, so what’s the rush? It’s always possible to reach her, so where’s the real urgency?

Last week was my birthday. I think around 80 of my Facebook friends jotted a quick “Happy Birthday” message on my wall. And each time I got a notification, I got a short lived happy feeling. Not even a day later, that positive energy had dissipated, and not even a week later, I couldn’t name half of the people who sent me birthday wishes because I just simply don’t remember.

Of course this doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate someone taking a moment out of their day to send a nice thought my way. But there’s certainly a difference between a text message or Facebook notification than a hand-written note or an act of kindness, right?

Communication in our world is constant; it never stops. You have to actively step away from the Internet or TV to avoid becoming inundated with information and opinions. So why are deep, meaningful conversations so hard to come by? Why are fulfilling experiences so rare?

Because more is less and less is more.

I deactivated my Instagram account about two years ago and I was initially SO hesitant to do so. I worried about missing out on big announcements, not being “in the know” about current events, and losing touch with friends who I only followed on that specific platform.

Two years later, and I quite literally never think about Instagram. It’s freeing to have one less platform to check on, and less opinions and facades to sort through. I deactivated Twitter a few years before that, and it was truly a wonderful thing for my mental health.

Yet I can’t quite let myself deactivate Facebook. I’m scared to lose my village!

What village? If I forget someone exists because I do not see their Facebook posts a couple times a week, do I actually believe they are a part of my village?

Happy birthday posts, funny memes, and meaningful yet forgettable quotes do not a village make.

When our parents were raising us 20-30 years ago, and they needed help or encouragement or quality time with friends, what did they do? My mom found a neighbor to go on walks with. She joined a prayer group with friends from church. Other times she would get together for a glass or two of wine with her cousins.

She saw these people IN PERSON, IN THE MOMENT.

If she wanted to update her friends on her life happenings, it was done face to face. She got to experience their presence, be present in the moment, and then go home and have time to herself. And her long distance friends? Actual phone calls! Actually having to schedule times to meet up for a weekend together to catch up.

When I see a friend’s social media update about her life, I no longer feel the need to check in or ask how things are going. Because she already told me, right? It’s just not the same.

Sometimes I think moms today have it so good compared to the generation before us. After all, convenience is everywhere. We have machines that make bottles for us, video monitors, cordless breast pumps, even socks that detect our baby’s body temperature and heartrate.

Other times, I feel sad for moms today as I think we are missing something the generations before us had: genuine connection. The ability to live our lives without the constant comparison that social media offers and the inevitable second guessing of our own instincts that it can produce. We have such an abundance of information and material possessions that we couldn’t possibly understand how less is more. 

We barely get the chance to learn how to be resourceful because every resource we could possibly need is a quick Google search away.

When it’s easy to reach out to a friend at quite literally any moment you desire, does it mean as much? When there’s no urgency to give your friend a phone call because she can only answer at a certain time of day, do you ever end up making the phone call?

I haven’t yet worked up the courage to leave social media behind completely. I’m afraid of what I’ll “miss out on”. But maybe, I would gain so much more. I would say “I’ll let you know if I ever take that leap”, but if I do, you’ll have to find out in person.

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