Lesson 71: Social Media is Anything But Social

 

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I purposely didn’t post anything online today.

It was a beautiful, sunny Easter here in ATX, and I enjoyed it alone – taking a yoga class, getting a manicure, then lunch and some writing on the patio of a trendy SoCo restaurant. I thought about “sharing”part of my day on Instagram or Facebook, but remembered the conversation with my friend, Eve last weekend – and decided against it.

“Your life looks SO amazing!” she exclaimed when I admitted I’d been feeling discouraged and alone more than I’d like.

“Well, yeah,” I answered. “Anyone’s life looks amazing in 3 second intervals. And that’s the problem with social media: it’s not real.”

I mean it is real, but only partially.

It just doesn’t show the remaining 86,397 seconds of that day. People take one moment during a meal, a concert, or an afternoon at the park – add a cool filter and a clever line and it looks like their life is idyllic.

The truth is that I do love it here, and am grateful for all that I have and am moving towards –but my life is a far cry from what I’d like it to be, and from what it appears to be online. Everyone’s is.

And I still contend that it’s bad idea to look at Facebook when you’re having a less than stellar day.

“No one’s posting the fight they just had with their husband, or the crappy weekend they spent at a job they hate, or the incredibly depressing date they had with Mr.Wrong Again. That would look pathetic. Instead, we check into the cool restaurant, concert, or city we’re visiting and post pictures of the fun we’re having.”

Anything can look good with the right lighting and filter. Even a crappy day alone.

The bizarre flip side of this, is not being present in the good moments. Those fabulous moments when you ARE surrounded by friends and family, and instead you choose to spend it taking and posting pictures online. One dad apparently got so fed up with his kids’ addiction to their phones, he created a “Be Present” box for their cell phones during dinner. Pure genius.

be present box
Courtesy of Mark Love Furniture. Yes, it’s for sale.

As soon as I’m lucky enough to have a family to have nightly dinners with, I think I’m gonna have to insist on this rule.

But us “grown-ups” are just as bad, if not worse, about having our heads buried in our phones when we are surrounded by people we supposedly care about.

A few weeks ago I watched a guy at a bar completely ignore his date and friends, while his fingers whizzed away on his cell phone. Only when the conversation stopped for him to give his order to the patient server, did he look up.

“Sorry, I was being social,” he attempted to joke.

Ironic as hell, but no – he wasn’t.  In fact he (and all of us when we make the same choice to check our personal devices) was being decidedly ANTI-social.

And for what? To document a small moment in time, while sacrificing the bigger gift: togetherness. If you’re lucky enough to have people you love in your life, be present when they are with you. Save the posting for later. Or at least until you go to the bathroom. (You know you do it.)

Social media is a great way to sorta, kinda know where your friends and family are physically. But don’t let that lull you into a false sense of knowledge about where they are emotionally.

Objects online may appear to be better than they actually are. If you really want to know how someone you care about is doing – excuse yourself from the table and use your phone to something old school.

Call him.

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