Social Media: Connection or Avoidance?
We can’t stand the quiet.
Standing at the bus stop. Waiting in line at the post office. Coming home from school. We immediately play a game, scroll through social media, or stare at our home screens. We can’t seem to tolerate simply being and are constantly seeking distraction. But distraction from what? Why is it so difficult to let our minds quiet?
If we were quiet, we would have to sit with our emotions and our thoughts. Maybe we would let our minds go blank. Or, we would have to look around and connect with others and we don’t know how that’s going to go.
When we get on Instagram, we have a guarantee of social connection no matter how fleeting, superficial, or inconsequential to our lives. When we get on Xbox, we connect to playing a game or being entertained in a way that provides some certainty–we know what the rules are and if we don’t, we can learn and practice to get better.
Our distraction comes at such a cost. We sacrifice a quiet mind. A new idea. A meaningful connection with a neighbor.
It is time to focus, to engage, to connect. To see the meaning around us in real life so we can better handle the anxiety, meanness, and pessimism that is fed to us online.
So the next time we thoughtlessly and automatically pull out our phones or melt into the couch to play a game, let’s ask ourselves the following questions (inspired by our friend and colleague, Cam Adair):
When do I feel good using social media?
Am I using social media to connect with other people or deepen a relationship with them?
Am I doing this to distract myself? What do I want to distract myself from?
What am I missing out on by focusing on this device instead of what’s going on around me?
How am I feeling if I don’t use it? Am I thinking about it? Am I getting irritable?
What do I gain?
What do I lose?
Technology is integrated into every aspect of our lives and through it, we can make connections. But if we don’t stop and realize how it is impacting our interactions and relationships with people, we can lose ourselves in the process.