We know too much about each other these days. What I mean to say is that, I think we can find out too much about others earlier than we used to be able too. We used to have to sit down and talk to someone, perhaps for days, weeks or months before we found out certain things about them. Nowadays, a lot is just freely available online; especially through social media. This is creating a false sense of intimacy and is perhaps inhibiting the development of true friendships built on a foundation laid over time, through conversation and experience.
These days we can meet someone, sometimes for the first time, and we about their family, where they went on vacation, their political or religious views and who they appear to have close relationships too. We meet them thinking we know all this stuff about them, but in fact, we don’t know THEM. Conversely, they may very well not know that much about us, so there is an imbalance. Some of us give more of ourselves online than others, and certainly I would be classified as a heavy user.
But, as I looked over my Facebook timeline this morning, for the last time before I deactivated it, I saw pictures, links to articles, all the normal stuff and I thought… Why do I care? Why do I care what movie you watched last night? Why do I care that your life is over because they ran out of your favourite ice cream? I do enjoy seeing people’s vacation photos, but I at the same time I don’t get he commentary to go along with it. I would prefer to sit with a friend, drink in hand, and go through the photos and have them tell me about their trip: what brought them joy, what went wrong, what problems did they have to solve, what did they experience, and what did they learn? Most people aren’t going to go to the trouble of writing that stuff down when they add their top 15 photos from the day in wherever and whatever city.
So, it’s not just what we learn, but what we don’t learn. While I don’t see as many “fights” online as I used to, what I don’t see is that it’s been replaced with building people up. Instead, I see apathy or just nothing. No attempt to engage one way or the other. We just post things without comment. We, essentially, just drop a newspaper on the floor, walk away and maybe someone picks it up. It doesn’t tell us what you think or what your purpose was in dropping it. It’s a little bit of digital litter.
Maybe it’s because we see others posting things and we don’t want to be left out of the conversation (non-conversation). I worry that social media is not increasing or improving our ability to have genuine and meaningful conversation. Certainly, it has helped serve as a platform to launch revolutions in countries, but this sort of massive social change and meaning, seem pretty rare.
I know I’m sounding a bit down on social media. I do recognize that there have been many positive things come out of this new media revolution, but if we are too improve it, we need to acknowledge the flaws and repair them, so we can bring more good to it.
More engagement. Less litter.