Social Media today offers us an illusion of friends and relationships that really at the core, are false. Combined with a media that seeks to split us up into smaller and smaller groups, it's no wonder people are all kinds of messed up.
Let me elaborate. We connect with people on Fakebook be they high school mates, work colleagues, acquaintances and people you are “connecting” with. We asume that because they are connected on our Book of Face, they are our “friends”, because it says so. So now we make some posts to the platform and when we only get a few “likes”, we feel a little self-conscious, a little low because we have so many “friends” that aren't paying attention to us.
Face it, we’re on Facebook, we’re seeking attention, No, we can’t deny it, if we weren’t seeking it out, we would post privately. We would like everyone to read our stuff, comment, like it and share it. This is why we post to our friends or in public, regardless of what it is.
So now we go check our newsfeed and we see that there’s people gaining more “likes” than us, so we make this unconscious comparison that our worth isn’t as valuable as the person gaining a flood of attention. Then maybe a little paranoia creeps in and think, “if no one is liking my stuff or talking to me, what the hell are they connected to me for?” Then it goes further and we think, “well I can’t delete people, because some take all of this way too seriously and it might start something if I see them in public.” Now we’ve set up this inner turmoil that can affect and over time alter brain chemistry. It gets reinforced every time you engage this way.
The internet age, the age of information, we are bombarded with news and articles constantly. Most of it isn’t very good. We are pulled this way and that by a media that seems to want us to divide us into one camp or the other, all black or white thinking.
It used to be that you didn’t get your dose of heavy news until you sat down at 5 pm after work. Now you go online, to pretty much any site and you find mostly negative, divisive news. So what do we do? Can’t get rid of the internet, many of us grew up with it. Most kids these days grow up only knowing the internet.
So we constantly see advertising with gorgeous, scantily clad models and celebrities. They look better, are richer, have more fun and if we believe the marketing, smell and taste better than us too. Guess what happens, that inner turmoil goes up another few notches for all of that.
Then we get to all the really bad news, that earthquake over there, a shooting in that nightclub, someone driving a box van into a crowded market and it seems like the world is getting worse. In reality, all things being equal, it’s more than likely the same. Just with 24/7 news cycles and every website out there making a grab for your attention, with all the evil of the day, it’s overwhelming.
It was easy not to be self conscious before, there weren’t the constant reminders and social pressures to perform like a peak athlete all the time. Constant subconscious reminders that we aren’t as good as the next person.
Some shut down, don’t leave the house, order everything online, talk to anyone we want at anytime without calling or going to their house. We have the illusion that being online, is being social.
Really it’s being anti-social.
Everyone really is degrading their social skills, they don’t know how to act or to be social and it breaks down more. This may be why anxiety disorders are on the rise with our kids. So used to being social behind that blue glow, once face to face, it seems like a brand new thing again and causes panic. Think about it, we’re so used to typing things out on our devices, we don’t know how to talk anymore. We think so hard about what we’re saying, the tone, the context, which emojis etc etc That’s not how normal conversation works. You don’t pause to think about what and how you’re going to say something, you just say it. Which causes anxiety, makes us stay in, feeling lost in social situations ratcheting up the turmoil even more with feelings of worthlessness and depression.
The more connected we become, the more we isolate ourselves. We’re losing our community, it wasn't so long ago that we cooked our meals together, hunted together, did laundry together, laughed and danced together. Instead we have distracted and disjointed conversations that we’re only half listening to because we’re watching Netflix and chatting with 2 others at the same time.
Put your devices down, go see that friend. Go for a walk. Breathe.
Kick the kids out to the street without the devices. Hell when many of us were younger, how many would be outside from sunup to sundown and not allowed back in the house until then?!?
Here are some other community builders and creators of social capital:
Invite neighbors over for a meal or barbecue
Attend a political meeting
Support local merchants
Volunteer your special skills to a community organization
Donate blood (with a friend)
Work in a community garden
Mentor a person of a different ethnic group
Surprise a new or favorite neighbor by taking them food
Avoid destructive gossip or help someone else avoid it
Help another person outside your home fix something
Attend local school or children’s athletics, plays, & recitals
Get involved with scouts
Sing in a choir
Attend a party in someone else’s home
Get to know the clerks and salespeople at your local stores
Audition for community theater or support a production backstage or volunteer to usher
Attend a lecture or concert
Give to your local food or clothing bank
Play cards or games with friends or neighbors
Walk or bike to support a cause and meet others
Participate in a political campaign
Attend a local festival or parade
Find a way to show personal appreciation to someone who builds your local community
Coach or help out with local (youth) sport
Offer to help a neighbor with garden work or shopping or a ride
Start or participate in a discussion group or book or film club
Start or join a carpool
Plan a “Walking Tour” of a local historic area
Tutor or read to children or have children read to you
Run for public office
Host a party
Offer to serve on a committee outside of work
Form a walking group (or a swimming group) with at least one other person & encourage each
Play a sport
Ask an elder or a young person to teach you something
Host a potluck supper
Take dance lessons with a friend
Become a trustee
Join a campaign & take action that brings you into contact with others (not just a donation)
Gather a group to clean up a local park, cemetery or waterway
Bake something for neighbors or work colleagues
Volunteer at the library or primary school
Call an old friend
Sign up for a class & meet your classmates
Accept or extend an invitation
Log off and go to the park
Say hello to strangers
Find out more by talking with a neighbor you don’t know very well yet
Host a movie night
Help out with or create a newsletter or write on a BLOG (like this one?!?)
Collect oral histories to discover the interesting things people have done
Cut back on TV & interact with people instead
Join in to help carry something heavy
Make gifts of time
If you think someone needs help, ask to find out & do what you can
Fix it even if you didn’t break it
Pick up litter even if you didn’t drop it
Attend gallery openings & art exhibits
Organize a neighborhood yard sale
Read or listen to the local news faithfully
Attend a public meeting or hearing & speak up!!
When inspired write a personal note or send a card to friends
Offer to watch a neighbor’s home while they are away.
Help out with recycling
Ask to see a friend’s photos
Invite a local politician or official to speak to a group you belong to
Start talking to people you see regularly
Listen to the children you know and find out what matters to them
Plan a reunion of family, friends, or people with whom you had a special connection
Hire local young people for odd jobs
Write a letter to the editor or guest-post on a BLOG (like this one!)
Join a group that is likely to lead to making new friends of different ethnicity, or
income, or life experience
Find a few things that interest you, build your community and connect with other people!
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