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Monday, 17 November 2014

Filling the void - The Perils of Social Media

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.




Digital Parents Blog Carnival

22 comments:

  1. Agree :)
    Be present. That's the key phrase.
    Leanne @ Deep Fried Fruit

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  2. Yes Lydia. As a social person I struggle to find this balance every day. My main concern is not turning away from my kids to engage in social media.

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  3. Yes, I completely agree. When I'm out with my husband, which is very rare, social media is definitely switched off. I can never really understand those people who 'check in' to events. Why don't you just enjoy what you're doing rather than stopping and blasting it on Facey. I have a significant Facebook addiction, but I ensure that I focus my attention on the kids and my husband when they are around. As for FB friends, I cull every now and then. It's a good feeling :)

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  4. I went the weekend without FB because we were away for my Dad's 70th birthday - it felt good. I rarely interact with social media on my phone (I know, I must be weird). I do spend a fair bit of time in front of the computer (working but also reading, FB'ing) but it least it means that when I'm away from a computer I'm not checking a phone or tablet all the time.

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  5. Great points.
    I don't hangout on Facebook for these reasons. I actually feel crappy after I scroll around on Facebook at any time, even for the shortest while. I find it depressing and I feel like I suffer low self esteem after I scroll through my newsfeed (even though I actually do not). I don't really understand Facebook or the need of some people to publish every tiny detail of their life there for a 'like.' I would rather, as you say, be out and engaging in the real world.

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  6. I agree, I always try to be present, SM can wait. I use my personal account to connect with friends and family who live a long way away rather than the people I interact with everyday. I'm on there much more for business where numbers do matter.

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  7. I couldn't agree more. It's not often that I check FB/twitter outside of work unless I am waiting somewhere for someone/something or if I'm expecting something from K. I found in the evenings I would sit with my phone or iPad and have my nose in there the whole night while A was watching TV whereas before we would watch shows together. I have learned that I would rather engage with those I am with than those who live in my computer.
    Thanks for raising some great points here - as always !!!!
    Have a wonderful day xox

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  8. Love this post Lydia. Great reminders. I was talking to someone this week about how we are the last generation that will remember a time before social media. All the kids growing up now are so tapped into the online world that I feel I need to keep reminding my kids to stay offline and enjoy what is in front of them. They do a good job of it but can be sucked in for hours as they like online games, music, you tube etc for entertainment. (Cannot figure out how to get blogger to change my name to inner compass designs or just deb Dane lol)

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  9. I think all activity on the internet falls into this category of filling a void in our real lives, if you let it. Including consumerism, blogging, "researching", anything that removes us unnecessarily from reality. Doesn't mean it's not helpful or fun at times though!!

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  10. Yes,I think that we all need to put it away. I'm as addicted as anyone. I sometimes wonder what kind of monster we have created, and think that I need to go cold turkey for a while.
    Dani @ sand has no home

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  11. I tend to think that social media is tending to become ANTI SOCIAL. Rather than being social with real friend, in real time, in real life - we are interacting with people on twitter / FB etc a bit too much I think and it is taking away from living in real time with real people. I worry for young people that they will lose out in the 'social skills' area being brought up in such a technological/social media era!!

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  12. When I am out, I put the phone down and talk to the people I am with. Unfortunately not all of my friends are like that and it's frustrating to be out to dinner and everyone is just sitting on their phones. I don't want to pay $30+ for a meal to look at the top of their heads.

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  13. Oh I need to get better at this. I am, slowly, but that phone always draws me in, and it's not ok

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  14. I love social media, and if I'm honest I do spend quite a bit of time on it. But I always try to limit that time when I'm with friends and family. If I'm even more honest, I usually forget all about social media when I am actually out and about socialising. A case in point is last Friday's Blogger's Brunch. I was so busy socialising I didn't take a single photo! Worst blogger ever!

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  15. I love your last sentence. Social Media can wait. I can't agree more.

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  16. Great point. I'm more and more conscious of this fact at the kids get older.

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  17. Yep!! I try hard to stay off technology when the kids are around, hence not much blogging etc. Nothing worse than having a conversation with someone who is only half participating.

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  18. I'm making more of an effort with this, in fact I've come to notice others are a lot worse than I, well I'm not great but I never pick up phone when I'm with company....

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  19. Yep, I love it, and it has connected me with more actual friends than I would otherwise have, but it definitely becomes a time-sucker and I have to be really careful about that, and about staying present at home. On the whole, for me, as someone who held off signing up for years, it has been a very positive force in my life, and has helped me stay connected as a stay-at-home mum.

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  20. AS much as I really don't like FB, I'm totally addicted to Instagram! There's a place for social media, and a place to leave it out. Great points here, Lydia.

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  21. So agree - I think we all get a little addicted to social media and have to remind ourselves to be present or just switch off for a day.

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  22. Great reminder! I'm guilty of scrolling my feed way too often but then other days am so disconnected I get questioned why I didn't see so & so post about this or that. If it's so important, real life communication is key :)

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