This video from Shimi Cohen is an interesting exploration of how social media actually affects how we connect with others. It argues that a human’s natural capacity for ‘friends,’ that is knowing people in person and fairly intimately, is 150. Obviously, social media sites provide us with a much different view on the idea of ‘friends.’ We are inundated with profiles who, like us, are putting the best image of themselves out there. It’s “endless personal promotion” as the video puts it. That along with the fact that we get to edit what we say before we say it (and after we say it) removes our real selves from the conversation.
The main point of the video is that social media provides us with the type of social escape that allows us to believe that we never have to be alone, which is a basic human issue, if not fear. We can always be connected, always be in a conversation, and always be heard. But in our attempt to elude being alone, we buy into this hyper-real (that is a simulation of reality that looks and feels completely real) network, chat, direct message, and share.
It is hard today, to come to know what it is to be alone, what it is to be exactly who we are without a profile picture or a quote to summarize who we are. Therefore, we only know what it’s like to be lonely. It feels weird to be on Facebook in the middle of the night and see it’s pretty much deserted (of people I’d want to talk to anyway). It’s weird that that in itself incites feelings of loneliness, and that’s just a website!
But it still happens. When we start to get uncomfortable when there’s no one to connect with online, you know there’s an issue with how we deal with being alone. It may be time to disconnect ourselves from our online presence a bit and reconnect with who the hell we actually are.