I know that anyone who’s read the majority of my posts will be aware that I’m not a big fan of social media. For those who are new here and may not be aware: I’m not a big fan of social media… In all seriousness, I consider social media to be somewhat harmful. Not because it’s inherently harmful in and of itself, but because some people choose to use it in harmful ways.
I’ve been off the social media scene for almost two years now, having done away with the likes of SnapChat and Facebook, due to issues they caused me in my professional life. I was partly responsible for these issues, since no person is ever ABSOLUTELY responsibility-free in any given issue, but after I learned the damage that having other people on social media caused, I chose to step away.
As the world continues to turn, the population continue to become more and more dependent on social media for even the smallest of social interactions. Everything from applying for jobs to dating, the more time passes, the more people are depending on their computers and their devices to do the talking for them. And as convenient as some of it may be (I’ve applied to a number of jobs online, it sure saves driving around and physically handing out resumes) there are some significant pitfalls, as well.
In some ways, a lot of ways, we’re slowly losing touch with our own humanity. No, I don’t mean that we’re all suddenly becoming robots. But we certainly are beginning to resemble automatons. I challenge any of you to walk through a public area, even one where a person should be paying attention to their surroundings such as the grocery store, and you’ll notice that the majority of the population have their faces buried in the screen of a smartphone.
I don’t know about you, but when I’m at the grocery store I pay attention to the aisle I’m in and the groceries I’m looking for. Weird concept, right? You would think that checking your Twitter or Facebook could wait until AFTER you’ve completed your errands. And no one really needs you to SnapChat the nachos you found at 20% off, regardless of how excited you may be.
In some ways, a lot of ways, I totally understand the compulsion. There’s an almost surreal addictive feeling behind some of the social media platforms that are out there. Up until late 2018, I would compulsively check my phone dozens of times throughout the work day, no matter what I had on the go. Nowadays I tend to limit myself quite a bit more, checking my phone only for phone calls and email purposes and occasionally searching for things that I’m curious or researching on.
A good example of how we’re stepping away from our humanity involves a story I’d like to share with you. I have a friend who used to be absolutely obsessed with online singles’ sites. In fact, over the course of a few very short years, he completely did away with meeting women in person, and depended solely on finding online profiles and attempting to meet people in this fashion. Now don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying there’s necessarily anything wrong with meeting someone new online. But if it causes you to lose the ability to approach someone in person, then it can be more harmful than good.
The digital frontier allows people to present themselves in any way they see fit. Occasionally, this won’t be in keeping with their realistic selves and people get some rather nasty surprises when they meet in person. That’s only one of the pitfalls. Don’t even get me started on meeting someone online who ends up being of an opposing gender than you thought they’d be, or a creeper who’s trying to meet with minors. But I digress…
My friend spent a few years trying to meet “the one” through many of these singles’ sites. He went on some dates and even started some semi-lasting relationships with them. But they never lasted. Not in the way he wanted. I used to encourage him to go out somewhere and do it the old fashion way. Go sit at a coffee shop with a book and a beverage. You spot someone from across the room, your eyes meet, you share a smile and you walk over and introduce yourself. Maybe you chat for a while. Then you work up the courage to ask if they’d like to meet for coffee again. Maybe they say yes and offer up their phone number.
Maybe I’m just old-fashioned, but I believe this kind of thing still happens. Although not quite as I described above, I met my wife the old-fashioned way; live and in person. My friend finally yielded to my persistence and attempted to meet someone in person. His experience was grand. He attended a local book store and introduced himself to a woman and asked her if she could recommend a good book she may have read (pretty smooth, I thought). They hit it off and even went out once or twice. They ultimately moved on from one another, but the experience changed his perspective of the online scene.
Dating is only one aspect, but it’s an easy one to write about. But for the most part, our dependence on the Internet and social media is slowly pulling us away from the actual world around us. Although the world is currently caught in the throes of social distancing, there’s still a big, beautiful world out there. And it would be a shame if people completely disconnected from it in exchange for the cold, pixelated screen of a smart device. ☯