Technology has expanded in an unprecedented manner. Today, we can instantly reach out to people oceans away. We connect over passions, beliefs, values, and even for business. The only thing separating us is our screen.
However, despite our unprecedented ability to connect with almost anyone sitting literally anywhere in the world, it feels like we are spiraling towards loneliness and a general sense of disconnect. Neither of us is connecting with each other in meaningful ways anymore.
Social media platforms began with the purpose of giving us the opportunity to connect with people around the world. It began with Facebook, evolved to Twitter, LinkedIn, then Instagram and Snapchat, and now even TikTok. We all leveraged LinkedIn’s professional community to get jobs, and meet the people who would help us launch our businesses. We used Facebook to educate and train people anywhere. We shared events of our daily life through pictures on Instagram, and then eventually even moved to promote products and selling them. The list goes on.
Social media gave us all the opportunity to get our message out to a broader audience – to reach exponentially more people despite political, social or cultural borders. More people led to more impact. Especially in the form of revolutions that toppled fascist regimes, and brought people together for a bigger, common cause.
However, amidst this sea of positives, social media also brought along isolation. It made us all into mini-celebrities, gave us a thousand friends, a platform to voice our opinions on topical issues. But it also left us with less personal, deep connections with the ones around us. We plug into social media by saying that we are strengthening relationships with the ones far away. But what about the ones in our homes? We are all networked well, but are we well connected? Are we really attuned to the realities of political crises happening in our neighboring state or the one far away? How much are we actually contributing to a cause through just ‘liking’ a post? Do we really care, or are we just trying to fit in a know-all world?
In this digitally-connected society, it may seem like the only way to connect, engage, educate and reduce social isolation is to be more available on social media. However, to build meaningful connections, it’s essential to come out of the perceived comfort of our phones and engage with those in the world around us.
It’s imperative that we start making an effort to stop scrolling long enough to ask our partners how their day was. Engage in some awkward social banter with the neighbor or the grocery store owner. Join a club where members meet up in person once a week. Gain perspectives that are not solely driven by editorial coverage and long posts on Facebook. Use social media for the ones who are actually sitting oceans away. Consume news, but understand the finer points through face-to-face conversations with people around us. Social media is the greatest communication tool mankind ever created, but we have to stop it from becoming a replacement for actual human empathy and connection.