Thoughts

Social Media Makes Me Lonely

March 30, 2014

social media

I don’t easily fit in well with society’s acceptable faces and demonstrations.  As a Meyers-Briggs INTJ, I have always awkwardly lingered on the sidelines hoping to be unnoticed yet wishing to be seen. Wrestling with an artlessly simple, gawky, view of the world where merit reigns supreme I am often disappointed.

This clumsy world vision isn’t the contrived hipster version of pseudo-not-caring or carefully maintained nonchalance and genteel sophistication.  I really don’t always know when I should care and when I shouldn’t. Social cues are painfully missed, misread, or overlooked to the point of insult and offense.

Yet, somehow, all these years I have struggled through, gained some form of social aptitude and learned to function among the masses.

That was as good as it got, back in the day, and it was ok. It was good enough.

Those were the days before social media. Before sixteen personality quizzes a day reaffirmed how truly socially awkward I am.  Those were the days before the reality of people living with each other, laughing, sharing life in sweetness and sadness, shared lunches and birthday parties scrolled in an endless litany of non-invites and mutual confessions.

While I am sure I know my life is as full as I can bear, it is also true that I have never tasted lonely so deeply as I have since the advent of Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, and Pinterest.

An Internet community forged from opportunity and tagged pictures created a enigmatic monster who doesn’t allow much room in real life for lives lived ugly and honest.  Sharing artfully arranged micro-images of life that endeavor to make us appear less double-chinned, more Pinterest-friendly, and more More than who we truly are in yoga pants and hoodies.

The flip side of this falsely cheerful digital imitation existences are those who wear pain like a badge of honor and wrest compassion and empathy from every corner while burning voices and tear drenched posts  expose darkness and wrestle blindly and brutally with every kind of issue. In this venue of public scrutiny, those who have hurt them are put on trial and a jury of public opinion advocates and defends the perpetual victim while condemning the faceless perpetrator.

The rest of us fill our time sharing lyrics, beautiful images, funny thoughts, and the ever-present pop-culture memes to make us giggle. This social media keeps us too busy to really find each other or too afraid for the Real World coffee dates.

In spite of all this…

I have never been aware of loneliness as I have since the Internet revealed how I should live and millions of Jones’ floated through my browser tempting me to compare the house I live in, the car I drive, the styles I choose, the dreams I dream, the measure of my success by site traffic and publication options.

All this connectivity and no connection keeps the observers and the introverts on the edges of a never-ending social circus. The polarization of sound-bytes and poorly developed opinions makes the loudest voices become the weakest leaders humanity has ever known.

Who are we becoming when we share so much and know so little?

Has the Internet become nothing more than a mass media, billion-member strong reality show?

facebook questions

  • This brings a tear to my heart..I have often thought about what life would look like if we posted the messiness of life…dishes piled in the sink, laundry on the couch waiting to be folded, those 3 boxes I can’t seem to unpack because I don’t know where to put the stuff in them, the Rigoberto’s burrito wrappers on the floor of my car after I have asked said eaters of burritos to make sure they grab their trash on the way in the house and yes, me, sitting here at almost lunch time in my jammies and robe, bed head and all. Oh, and did I forget to mention the crumbs underneath the table? After feeling the hurt of uninvitedness, we have tried to be more conscious of events we post, but carelessness creeps in as does the crack of loneliness. This is a very thought provoking post Heidi. Life is funny though, I always thought you were way too cool to be friends with a dork like me 🙂 Let’s do coffee, or tea soon and have a REAL conversation! Thank you for sharing your heart and giving us all something to ponder. I have often wondered the impact this will have on kids who never lived without FB and the other venues of modern friendship: Snap Chat, Instagram, and being friends with living, breathing, messy people… And I am am serious about getting together soon…

  • Heidi Stone

    I would love to get together, friend! Me??? “too cool”. Oh bother, that makes me laugh so hard. 😉

    Like I said on FB, it’s an odd dichotomy. The lives of those with whom I will never realistically interact don’t provoke the same response as the inundation of lives lived around me. And, while I will experience loneliness, the post was more about the realization that it exists. I wasn’t aware of what I was “missing” or supposed to “need” until the incessant influx of information told me so.

    I rarely realize or recognize my own need for relationships until the lack thereof becomes painfully obvious and it just struck me recently how much of my life had become the wrestling of being who I want to be and the struggle with not feeling adequate when compared to those who lived around me.

    I love your last thought, too. I had that precise conversation with the boys and they were having a hard time imagining a world without the constant digital input.

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