Are we losing real connection with social media?

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Just yesterday I was talking with my friend at breakfast about how we used to write letters to our friends and family as late as in the 1990’s. We reminisced about the letters that we still have tucked away from friends that we kept in touch with. We remarked on how amazed we were that we took so much time to write many pages about how our lives were going and waited for our friends to respond.

Old Letters:

I recently de-cluttered my old letters and memory items and I kept one whole binder full of them. I was amazed at how detailed the letters were and how heartfelt they were. I found that the friends that I used to connect with through letters (long distance friends) were all now on social media (myself included) and how I felt that I lost a real personal connection to them. I can see through their photos and comments more or less how their lives are going, but these stories don’t encompass how they themselves are going through life and what their dreams, hopes and disappointments are. I miss that real connection to them. When we used to write letters to each other we only focused on one person at a time, writing to them and sharing our lives and also feeling so honored that they personally shared theirs with us by writing to us. Even with message apps like Facebook messenger and Whatsapp I feel that the personal connection is a little lost in the immediacy of the messages.

Real Human Connection:

Even though I am still on social media I have really started to prefer making time to meet people in person for coffee, tea, breakfast or lunch. We have a real human connection over a drink or a meal and we can really be in the present moment with each other and give each other attention. This is real human connection and there is nothing else like it. When you see someone eye to eye, there is a real bond and real caring there.

Connections to long distance friends:

I have been musing about how to connect more to long distance friends away from social media or messaging apps as well. I have many local friends that I try to see once a month or every couple of months. However, I do have some dear friends who are long distance that I want to maintain a deeper connection with. I think in the coming weeks I am going to suggest to them that we write each other letters, emails or set up a Zoom or Skype call maybe once a month to really be able to be in the present moment and connect with each other. I miss really knowing how they are in their lives. I miss knowing all of the nuances and the details that we told each other over letters.

On social media we can get some of the story of someone’s life- the highlight reel as it were. It is a wonderful thing in some respects because we can see places they have been, photos of major events and musings about daily life. However, I think that we really miss the personal details and some of the struggles that our friends used to share with us in a more intimate way. I feel that I am growing further apart from the people that I only see on social media and not through any other medium. I feel that I have to sift through the clutter of so many posts and also advertisements to really see a glimpse of what is going on in their lives. It begins to feel impersonal.

I am beginning to evaluate my relationship with social media as well. I don’t post as many personal things as I used to. I might post something about myself or my family maybe once a month or every couple of weeks because it just doesn’t feel very personal to me. That being said, I have made some very lasting connections in Facebook groups and we have kept the conversation going with other mediums such as Skype.

This week after this conversation with my friend, more than ever I am seeking to see people in person more often, to make real connections and to find ways to communicate more personally with some dear friends who are long distance.

I would love to know your thoughts on social media. Do you feel a real connection there? Do you meet people in person very much these days?

Feel free to comment below on your experiences or email me at:

trista.signe.ainsworth@gmail.com

—Trista