Where would I be without social media? Reading a book at home fulfilling more dreams with my spare time, or watching Netflix in tracksuits I never intend to photograph. Technology’s meant to ease communication; elasticise our ability to stay in contact. But does social media really connect us?
This post collaborates with Fiona from the blog Questions From A Teenager – a lovely, creative blogger who shares my passion for discussing societal issues. During my years on social-media, I’ve met incredible people from all walks of life. I recently described my experience meeting an Instagram friend in person which you can read here.
My Instagram began as a healthy lifestyle account building a fitness community. Though I’ve began posting more fashion and personal photos, I’m humbled people from the beginning remain a presence. I’ve seen them develop – get married, pregnant, move abroad and reach their goals. There’s something oddly romantic about an app sticking everyone together.
Yet, occasionally like crinkled cellotape, sticking begins to wear. Some disappear once their account gets popular; others use you for interaction – I’ll comment if you comment. On Facebook, “friends” become old faces you once enjoyed coffee with. What originated as an opportunity to stay updated in our fast-paced world, transcended to a marketing scheme where our online lives get summarised by likes and follows. Can social media really connect us when we’re coupled to countless people we don’t talk to?
Does social media really connect us positively?
The Content Factory published 2019 social media statistics such as “95 million photos are uploaded to Instagram each day” and Facebook users tend to have “155 friends” but “only trust 4 of them in a crisis”. What’s meaningful about “friends” we don’t trust? Arguably the biggest social app Instagram doesn’t encourage people joining together. It’s a modern-day Mean Girls where women dream of being The Plastics – literally considering several high-profile accounts adore cosmetic surgery.
The app congratulates behaviour mimicking the seven deadly sins. Look at me – look at my wealth and overspending and please lust over my derrière and let’s laugh at how much food I’ve consumed in one sitting. Oh, and please feel envious of me enough to write admiring comments I can gush over. I’m not writing at a hypocritical standpoint because I copy this negativity. Instagram has helped me gain work, business opportunities and blog views. I’m entirely myself and pour my heart openly, but I don’t upload myself with spots during a bad hair day. My page carefully crafts filters and images together.
Realising the pressure and stress established from this app, some users choose to avoid filters and “pretty photos”, instead keeping in touch with a small number of people. This I believe makes social media connectable. For the majority nonetheless, wishing on influencer aspirations and obsessing over popularity – there’s little to connect us – meaningful relationships consist of a mere handful.
Social media users handle blocking for pointless reasons and unfollows to look like fans. I find Twitter one of the most anti-social and scariest apps. It seems one slight error and you’ll be thrown to the wolves who find you offensive. Not to mention the “clicky” groups and shock tweets over everything and anything – “oh my gosh!! I can’t believe Kit-Kat chocolate has a flavour I’ve not tried”.
There’s a particular girl I use to follow on Instagram who truly inspired me. She came across sweet, dedicated and had body goals I hoped to emulate. We’d comment and show support, until her account just vanished – deleted without trace. It was at that moment I realised regardless of how long you’ve known someone online, connections can cut whenever. There’s those I feel are true friends I hope to know for years to come, and plenty who without social media, I’d easily forget.
Does social media really connect us? It depends how you define connections and intimacy. What’s your opinion? Click here to read Fiona’s thoughts and how she interprets social media connections.