In a discussion on boasting, the number of FB friends you had came up. Does this number reflect something, or is it irrelevant? Somebody I know was a little hurt that while they had close to 300 FB friends, only 50 or so really engaged with him, even just to press 'like'. Some of the closest real life friends took little interest in his online world.
I am fascinated with this beast that has become so much a part of our lives, how we interact and how we engage with each other. It's often hard to tell if it connects us or isolates us. There is an element that we are filling a void with our endless, often one-sided conversation. We get approval from people, often people we don't know in real life, bolstering our ego, making us feel good about ourselves. This attention is addictive. I even have a book that states the more FB friends you have, the happier you are, the theory being that you feed off a collective happiness, and to an extent, that is true. Yet there are plenty of current articles arguing the reverse.
The danger is that this need for attention can create another void in our real life relationships, which brings a very real and damaging loneliness. If we are focusing our interest on the internet world, we are diverting our interest from those actually around us. If you have ever been mid-sentence, only to have the person you're talking to interrupt and announce what they just saw on their phone, you'll know what I mean. If you are up to date on what your online friends are doing, but don't know what your husband did today, then you are focusing on the wrong area.
This excellent article sums it up perfectly. We need to stop and take interest in the people around us if we are to make them feel validated. We may not be interested in what they are doing, but the fact that they are doing it should be enough for us to engage with them on it.
We need to continue to 'turn towards' those in our lives. Focusing on those on FaceBook or Twitter is in a sense 'turning away' from those we live with.
Obviously, I love social media and spend a lot of time in an online world. It's the balance that is tricky. I've mentioned before, while I understand it's a panacea, it's also consuming, so we need to make sure we keep it under control, or risk damaging important relationships in the process. If we appear more interested in the lives of the people in our phone, we will eventually cause those that live with us, or near us, to turn away from us. No one likes to play second fiddle for too long.
If you are out with your spouse, put your phone away. If you are playing a game with your kids, don't check FB when it's not your turn - make conversation with those at the table. If you are grabbing a coffee with a friend, be present with them only.
The beauty of social media, is that it can wait.