Do you check your text messages, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram the minute you wake-up? Do you have a Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO)?
Even when we’re surrounded by digital tools that make it easier for us to engage with friends and acquaintances, it’s not uncommon to feel alone! Or perhaps it is because we have become accustomed to the constant interaction and immediacy of social networks, that we are isolating ourselves and substituting meaningful connections for superficial likes and comments! Do you get lonely after browsing through your Facebook News Feed? I have a career in Digital & Social Media, and sometimes…I feel pangs of loneliness after endless hours online. I can’t help but wonder is social media making us feel lonely?
Loneliness by no means is not a byproduct of the digital age, but it is something that we are doing to ourselves. Using technology as a substitute for developing close relationships with friends and using it as a shield to produce a more ‘constructed’ identity online can become an isolating experience.
Social media can help bring us closer together and separate us. While taking endless photos and videos can be beneficial in sharing experiences, but it can also put a screen between yourself and the actual experience, as it is happening! Look up from your device for a moment and you might notice that you’re standing alone.
The beauty of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and social networking is that it allows us to create carefully constructed personas that are the best representation of a moment in time. This type of superficial representation of our lives is addictive and can deter us from experiencing the more unglamorous parts in face-to-face contact! The visibility of our ‘interactions’ on social media can also lead us to comparing ourselves to our peers, increasing our FOMO and creating a hierarchy of online popularity or klout. But seriously, who cares how many people ‘follow you’ if you don’t have anyone to talk to when you need a friend?
Lack of meaningful Relationships
Loneliness and being alone are not the same thing. Recent studies show that while we gather and connect online, we are not confiding with each other in the same way we once did. While our online personas are popular and alive, our offline networks have decreased. Social media makes it easy for us to instafilter over unpleasant and possibly awkward social interactions. After all, how much can you truly share in 140 characters or a 6 second vine?
How to break the cycle of loneliness?
Our sense of community and friendship should not be defined by likes, comments, memes, or reblogs. It needs to be rooted in the unpleasant grey areas, the moments the computer is turned off.
Remember, when it comes to friends, relationships and life, quantity doesn’t equal quality. Re-tweet if you agree.