Let me be straight with you....I am not a digital native but a digital immigrant. I began using computers as an adult. So when digital communication exploded I still thought I'd use social media as regularly as my microwave. What I'm getting at is that my microwave is only one of a few things I use with my food. I also expected social media to be just a part of what I'd use to communicate not be at the top of the list. Color me “left in the dust" when I barely could get hold of friends via phone or text as they paintball blasted my devices with posts and messages from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest etc.
I couldn't keep up, I suspect like most of us. How are we supposed to navigate the Rubik's cube of posts to read, write and respond to?
Why should we, except for the social pressure to be LinkedIn with the crowd. This social pressure to fit in, to be one of the guys, to stand out or be popular has always been there from grade school when it was cool to have the new toy into adulthood and having the nicest house.
But now the social pressure machine [SPM] has been engineered to hard-wire to our emotional brains. The language of the SPM is thick with emotion-triggering words: Share, Friend, Like, Follow, Chat. We all want to be connected, because after all, we are social animals and connection is about creating relationships. But are we really connected? Are we understanding that FRIEND-ships are relationships of mutual trust, affection and support which become stronger with sharing through actions and behavior?
There's an expectation built into the SPM that we must post regularly and enthusiastically to have a stand out, online presence. Have kids lived life sufficiently to be able to post "content" of substance? Can teens still have a face to face CHAT with each other?
Do we as adults have enough sizzle of variety in our mundane day to day to sustain exciting content? Mundane means routine, uneventful even dull. If we can't beat those Influencers by documenting every nanosecond of our day, then we'll beat them, sometimes by beating [up] others. So here comes the gossip, the misrepresentation of self, the extremist views on Facebook and elsewhere. Social media gives us the illusion of intimacy and connection, similar to relating to our first action figure, TV character or gaming avatar. But soon, we're blurring the lines of reality and fakery and beating up on ourselves. This means losing ourselves in a race for more Likes until our self-esteem is tied to an image of ourselves which is just as blurred. We become Like Puppets.
If we can't beat them in the race, we become their FOLLOWers and let them dictate how we feel and what and who's important. But those who herd and lead have not always led their sheep to grassy fields of CONTENTment. Whose life are we living anyway?
It's not that social media doesn't bring communication, expression, advocacy or even sharing as it has before and during the pandemic. It allows us outlets when we feel there are none. But doesn't the nature of our relationships, inside or outside of our homes still depend on us? In the past, we had religious values, more stable families and tightly knit neighborhoods to give us a map to who we are, where we're from and where we're going. If we're a part of a growing community from social media, why would we know more about the lives of people we've never invited to our home than those who SHARE a home, school, office or neighborhood with us? If social media is a path to CONNECTion, why would our rates of bullying, anxiety, depression, domestic violence and suicide be on the rise? Loners are not born, they're made.
Loners are made from the fabric of loneliness, low self-esteem, a lack of support and feeling of connection with others. What can you and I do to repair that fabric? How can we use the social pressure machine for good?
Let me know what you'd do and Post with Intention for Noticeable Good! PING!
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See what I'm sayin'....