In an age where social media dominates our lives, dictates what our acquaintances know about us, and demands we create ways to present ourselves, it’s difficult to find a shred of real connection. Don’t get me wrong. I love scanning status updates and reliving memories through uploaded photographs, but I’ve found it’s all taken a toll on how I spend my time.
All to often, it’s 7:54 a.m. and I have six minutes before I start work. Time to check in online. Often though I don’t learn much from my social media ventures. And what I do learn, I kind of wished I had learned in person. Wait… you had your baby? You didn’t get the job? You’re engaged?
It’s a Catch-22 really. We’re all so connected to so many people that how could we possibly be expected to contact all 320 friends personally? Something’s gotta give, right?
That leads me to another pondering: Are we meant to have 320 friends? Sure, over the course of a lifetime, I do believe we can make contact with that many people, and we can influence a vast majority of those people whether for better or for worse. But should there come a time when that guy from freshman year’s biology class can leave your friends list?
If you’re like me, then the answer is no. To remove someone from my friends list is to admit our friendship has reached its end. It’s run its course. This season has ended.
But, friends, that’s okay. To everything there is a time and a season. Just because someone isn’t an active participant in your life now doesn’t mean they didn’t play their part in shaping the person you have become. Be grateful for what time you had and cherish the memories. Then let it go. This time has come. He’s left your circles IRL, which indicates you probably don’t need keep him in the loop online.
Why do we need to cut the strings of connectivity like that? Wouldn’t it be better to have the option of contact?
For some people, perhaps that’s true. But for me, I know the more online connectivity I have, the more I rely on making contact with a person’s social media outlet than her actual self.
When I scan status updates, posts, and Tweets, I gather everything I need to know about what that person is doing. As a result, my curiosities about her life’s changes are satisfied. So I don’t call. I don’t text a time to hang-out. I don’t send a mailed letter to her physical address. Then that person slips away, and I wonder why our friendship died.
I was too busy checking on 320 friends that I didn’t take the time to check in with the ones that matter most. I’ve received the illusion of connectivity in exchange for real fellowship.
Will I stop using my own forms of social media? In all honesty, not likely. I like the ability to share here and there. I like sending messages, and I like looking at my friends’ photographs. I even like finding out the daily temperature from friends’ comments in my feed. But what I will do is try to find a balance.
Life is a balance. If social media is the new reflection of our lives and our timelines, then it too should be treated with such moderation.
~Ally Siwajian © 2012
Photograph credit: Futurama image with added captions by Josh Shear