I am the first to admit that social media has made my life a little easier- Facebook and Twitter in particular have made it easier for me to stay in touch with high school friends and family members across the globe. As young people, we are also using Social networks to update everyone on what we are up to without the hassle of sending long emails to 20 people; we are virtually writing our own autobiographies online.
I saw an interesting stat yesterday, Facebook announced that there are now over one billion active people on Facebook. Did you know there is just under 7 billion people in this world? So one out of seven people is actively using Facebook. That is 15% of the world.
And of course, this is the era of instant messaging, thanks to Blackberries for BBM, and WhattsApp- we can chat anytime, anywhere, we have access to one another 24/7. But for some reason, we are not fulfilled, we aren’t happier, in fact, our relationships aren’t any stronger or better.
And I started questioning if all this technology is improving the quality of our relationships or actually facilitating their disintegration?
Given all these clever ways to stay in touch, people are lonelier than ever. Even though we have dream careers, expensive cars, big houses, and expensive shoes, titles and possessions aren’t fulfilling. People don’t know how to reach out, or who to reach out to. They are struggling silently behind closed doors. And because we have become so good at pretending we have it all together, we create an impression on social networks that we are intact and on top of the world while we crumble under the pressure of maintaining a false image.
As advanced as we are, we are human; we crave intimacy, connection, real friendship. We want a safe place where we can say, ‘I’m hurting,’ or ‘I don’t know what to do,’ without being judged. And isn’t it so sad that we have become too busy to care, too busy to listen, too busy with things that can really wait, but never too busy to update a Facebook status, post a new photo on Instagram, send a tweet or update a BBM Status.
Social media has in many ways, ruined us. We’ve exchanged our attention for a mention on Twitter and our affection for a retweet. We would rather be on the phone than sit and listen. The thought of sitting in silence bores us because we feel the need to always be “up to date”.
Yes, technology is great, with many benefits- fun, opinions shared, friendships formed, contacts made, business won- but excess of it will be our downfall. Social media is a part of life (a very small part) but it is not life itself.
When we really pay attention, if we open our eyes, we will see that most people aren’t waving; they are drowning. Under pressure to be something they are not, hiding behind social media. They aren’t smiling, they are putting on a facade… It’s a silent cry. As modern as we are, I think every once in a while we should hit a pause button on all this technology around us and be present in the lives of those we love. We should learn how to be in the moment and how to value someone’s presence. We have lost enough people to ‘busyness’, lost by neglect; lost because of unkind words, or worse, no words at all.
This is the paradox of the Facebook age: We have an unmatched ability to connect with other people through social networks, yet we still “suffer from unprecedented alienation.”
– Stephan Marche (The Atlantic)
We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values
We talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often
We have learnt how to make a living, but not a life.
We have added years to life, but not life to years.
We’ve been all the way to the moon and back
But have trouble crossing the street to meet the new neighbour.
We have conquered outer space, but not inner space.
We’ve cleaned up the air, but polluted our soul.
We’ve split the atom, but not our prejudice.
We’ve higher incomes, but lower morals.
We’ve become long on quantity but short on quality.
– George Carlin
Dedicated to my friend, Wayne. Ever missed. Ever loved.