I was reading an article the other day online that said that social media was no more than a “carefully managed form of self-display.”
I said, “Oh! That’s SO true!”
It got me to thinking about how we get to selectively choose what we share when, how, and who with. We can customize the time it goes out, who sees it, and how long it stays there.
However, at the end of the day, we’re all human and we all know that it’s just a carefully managed form of self-display – that we’re all posting what we want, when we want, with whom we want, and portraying certain things a certain way. Some people are way more authentic with this method of sharing than others.
That said, social media also has become, for some folks, a replacement for being fully present with others. My friends and family know that I’m cool with us checking in, taking a quick call, etc etc., but I believe in being fully and totally present when you’re with someone. If you’re going to look down at your phone the entire time, why did I come?
So….I started a list of all the things we actually lose by being online constantly. At a communicative and expressive level, what do we lose as a society when we’re online instead of present?
We all do both – online and in-person communicating – I’m not knocking social media…not the purpose of this post. I just wanted to bring light to the things we can pay attention to when we are with someone that we could never get in a Facebook group or Google Plus community, and give way to being more present as a result of being there with that person, in that moment.
Obviously. When you’re in a room, you can feel presence. It’s the energy in the room and the very smell, environment, and minds and hearts involved. It’s the way communication is inspired. You can’t get that online.
There’s nothing like seeing that woman in line who just went over her budget at Whole Foods or is in the zone in her pedicure chair. Likewise, watching men check out every woman that walks by and make faces accordingly is too funny to pass up (oh, am I the only one that scouts this?)
Without being somewhere, we can’t know what actually led up to the event and what happened after unless someone is filming it for YouTube, full-on movie style. When people share things on social media, we all know that “LOL” might not mean LOL – that person might be angry while they type “LOL” or they may have just had the worst day ever. What a culture we’ve built where we lost context so easily.
I mentioned this with presence, but it’s true. Energy can only partially be felt on social media. This past year, I had the opportunity to meet two of my online colleagues. I can’t tell you how much context and energy was added to those relationships for me having done that and embraced it. Energy doesn’t lie either – not everyone is like this, but with my high sensitivity, all you have to do is put me in the room with someone for 5 minutes and I can tell you a whole lot. My family and friends can vouch for this gift – I’ve seen train wrecks coming long before they do – sometimes months before – from only meeting someone they were connected to once. This is just not something we can get online.
Speaking of “LOL-ing” as easily as blinking, voice inflection is something we lose too. Someone can post a compliment on social media that isn’t the least bit sincere, and there’s no way we would know it because we can’t actually hear it. We can’t hear the shakiness in the person’s voice who is scared about their family member or who just posted they were in an accident. We can’t hear the kids crying in the background of the Mom overwhelmed from her day. It’s all just words on the page. Something to think about.
That saying – “the eyes are the windows to the soul” – I believe that. I always say that if someone can’t look me in the eye, or even not for very long, I question their honesty – of life, values, everything. That might sound a little harsh, but I am a person who cherishes it – some people don’t. For me, if someone can’t look me in the eye, our relationship is likely to be pretty surface-level, and I don’t do those well. Other folks aren’t bothered by it. In either case, you can only look someone in the eye on their Facebook photo, and that’s not saying much.
I’d love to know 1) which one of these is your favorite or 2) which one means the most to you, or 3) if you have one to add. Share it below in the comments.
Thanks for reading,
[gdlr_quote align=”center” ]I like you. Your eyes are full of language. –Anne Sexton[/gdlr_quote]