Sometimes I wonder how we are all walking around vertically and not lying down frozen in a prostrate position. One minute you’re cracking up as your toddler ravishes his first ice cream cone, and then you scroll through social media and see a friend had a family member pass away, and you’re heartbroken.
It’s the real. It’s the real in our fast-paced, social media world of tweets and posts, updates, and check-ins.
While social media certainly has it’s positive place in our lives, I have found it to be a hindrance, too. A hindrance because we have a key-hole view into peoples’ lives with whom we’ve likely had no personal interaction or true conversation for five, ten, fifteen plus years. The danger is we remain only superficially connected in that we have the ability to see what someone else puts out there and only what they put out there. Those posts affect us.
We are all so busy and we’ve never had faster communication or more methods to communicate in all of history. Yet, we seem more disconnected regardless of all our profiles, dot-coms, and instantaneous updates.
Now, I don’t think it’s better to go back to telephones with party lines and neighbors picking up the line and interrupting our phone calls every few minutes, nor do I believe we should allow social media to anger us to the point that every 6 months we delete our accounts only to realize we no longer have an old friend’s phone number, and we shouldn’t have deleted our account in frustration at the big bad internet.
How do we enjoy technology and still feel like we are connecting on a deeper level with those we care about?
Quality over quantity. Even in letter-writing days, even when communities were smaller, one didn’t write every single person with whom he or she had come into contact. He or she communicated based on need or desire, time allotted, and money afforded. Most social media is free. Practice selectivity in posting and updating. Pretend dollar bills are flying out of your pockets with the more time spent/characters typed (hello Twitter!) on social media platforms. After all, time is money, so they say.
Less is more. Frustrated with the cattle-call communication of modern technology? Irritated with the lack of personalization of the social media post or message over a text, or the text over a phone call? Tired of getting angry at a person’s post with whom you no longer have a relationship? Offended by how everyone is always “offended” by a remark or comment? Change your patterns. Don’t check profiles on your phone, but only on the computer. Schedule time to be on platforms. Set an alarm. Tell your spouse or roommate to dump ice down your back…whatever it takes.
In response to my frustration, I have started to write a letter to one friend a week. Mostly this is one-sided, but I figure if I do this, maybe someone will be glad to get something in the mail other than a bill, and they’ll eventually write me back. This affords me the opportunity to sit with my coffee or tea, concentrate on that person, only. While writing, the pace slows down, and I take time to truly share and connect with that friend and ask pointed questions. I offer news in our family and life. I connect with someone who is very dear to me with whom I have little contact anymore. It has been enlightening for me and I hope it has made my friend glad to know I spent time communicating at a deeper level. I focus on my penmanship (you can always type) and the immediacy of each word.
Letter-writing. What used to be mainstream social media is now a rarity. Making statements with pen and paper truly makes a statement.