Can Social Media Replace a Genuine Human Connection?

Can Social Media Replace a Genuine Human Connection?

Granted, social media can be an amazing way to stay in touch with friends and loved ones all around the world. However, is it actually ruining our human connection?

I sit here in a coffee shop. I look around at everyone with all of their perceived friends. Are we in a time of social starvation, or is it just me?

As we become more technologically advanced, are we becoming thirstier for social interaction? As I listen to the conversations, I understand that they are superficial at best. I hear gossip about clothes, life events, food, and entertainment. I know that I enjoy intellectual stimulation. I am aware that small talk paves the road to these more profound notions. I wonder though, how many have the more profound thoughts?

The millennials are the first generation to create and live in a clickbait world…

Businesses have morphed from buying ads in newspapers and on television channels to driving campaigns for clicks. Highly complicated computer algorithms sit behind the scenes and gather our data. They then deploy advertising campaigns that are completely customized to our every like, want and need. The efficacy is driven by our endless need to be on our mobile devices…

These devices play on the human need to interact, belong, be entertained and stimulated. The same algorithms that target us for advertising get us to download the newest app. We can rest assured whatever app we will play to at least several of our most profound human needs…

Because technology is an artificial simulation of reality, our needs will never fully be met by these devices. Instead, the app or media will distract you from the fact that you are not getting what you need as a social or psychological being.

This cycle is a perfect scenario for those who create the media. The more we use the application or entertainments, the emptier we feel. So then, we seek it more. This urge drives more “screen time” the metric many social media platforms use to determine how useful their application is. The more screen time, the more likely you are to click on an advertisement you see.

Add this to the fact that people often do not notice something until they have seen it many times. The longer you are on an app, the more likely they can show you the same advertisement several times. This exposure ensures that it will tap into your psyche. Often you are not even aware that these advertisers have filled some hole in our human psychology. That way, the next time you are in the store, or on the product’s website, you have thoughts of needing something that superficially fills your needs at best.

So we now have technology in the palm of our hand. Most people check their phone upwards of 150 times per day. The apps installed on the phone are sure to push notifications to your home screen to get you back to the app. These notifications drive screen time and improve their performance metrics to attract more companies interested in advertising on their platform. So we carry around a little, personalized advertising machine.

As we walk around with our heads in our devices, what do we miss?

There have been countless times that I am with friends, they get a text, and mentally they are gone. They stare at their phone like a zombie as I try to talk to them. The words do not penetrate this invisible wall that I am now trying to speak through. They are indeed no longer in the present moment, and most of the time it is even doubtful that they are there with me. It is for this reason that I argue these devices restrict reality.

Take a look at any social media platform. What do you see? Most of the time, we see how everything is fantastic in someone’s life. There are a few of those people that you know who use social media as a sounding board to complain about their experience. In either case, you hear only one side of the story. This media becomes only a small part of reality. This view becomes a restricted window into reality. Instead of embracing life for all of its ups and downs, people filter out all of the intermediate. It certainly pushes us toward the extremes. Media also creates greater isolation.

via GIPHY

If I am sitting here on my device, on social media and I, see how inspiring someone’s life is, I’m surely not going to reach out to them and start spilling my guts telling them how much I am suffering. We all suffer. Some of us suffer in silence. We all go through hard times, and there is nothing wrong with that. In the world of social media, this is not necessarily the case. It seems as though we are creating a world where it is not okay, to not be okay. In times past we could reach out to our social network for support. We could talk through our issues, and they would pass quickly. Now we keep things to ourselves out of fear. Fear that our life will not stack up to someone else’s perceived perfect life.

Perhaps it is just my experience, but I think that we are creating a social wasteland. One where people no longer know how to interact face to face. Perhaps it is me and my insecurities, but when I talk with strangers, they often squirm in their skin. I ask them about how they are doing, or what it is that they love, with little to nothing in return. The genuine curiosity is no longer in them. Their love for life has been beaten out. Perhaps it has been this way since the dawn of time.

Maybe it is me, and my trouble with my mental condition that drives me to be at the fringes. Perhaps this is a unique view from the outside looking in. Maybe it is me who is the outcast, and I am the only one starving for social interaction and the human condition. I do not think this is the case …

Perhaps it is out of self-preservation that I think it is not me. I tend to believe there are many thousands of people in the “Western World” all but starving. They are stressed out and depressed for many reasons. One of the primary reasons is they have no social web, no support structure. The support system that they used to be able to call upon does not exist. The essential social aspect of us as human beings is slowly dying and being replaced by an artificial world.

What is it that we are to do? Is there anything that we can do? Please, share with me in the comment section down below. Thank you.

Pete Willette

Pete Willette

Pete Willette is a young, energetic, life loving “thoughtrepreneur." An engineer by training, he has found himself as an inspirational and thought-provoking writer. His primary goal is to help people to lead "grounded and thrilling lives" through thought and idea sharing. His website with blogs, art, and soon-to-be book promotion can be found at www.thelifeodyssey.com.
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