Social media is distorting our relationships. Study after study is concluding that it makes us more self-conscious, lonely, and depressed. This invention of ours which has brought us so much benefit is “hijacking our minds”.
Some recent headlines:
We can’t keep going like this. We need to re-center on what makes relationships meaningful and understand how social media has short circuited our natural wiring, so we can prevent it.
Here are three truths about relationships that have been distorted by social media and how we can get our focus back.
Relationships take time
People are complicated and always changing; it takes a long time to get to know someone. Social media discourages getting to know people. It’s designed for spending a little time on a lot of people and only shows people’s public personas. We scroll, glance, (maybe like), and repeat.
We are fooling ourselves if we think we can be friends with a few hundred people. Friendships take time to build. They are made of shared memories, experiences, and discoveries, and it can take years to create one of trust and closeness.
“Like anything that’s worth anything, some things just take time” — Jim Guthrie
A place to be ourselves
Nurturing close relationships is not possible on social media. We only have the illusion of connection. Social media sabotages closeness by preventing us from being open and honest. Anyone who's posted something deeply personal can attest to the sparse likes and deafening silence. To get likes on social media requires our most impressive selves, not our complete selves.
Social media is the wrong place to share our personal feelings. For that we need close friends which, coming back to the first part, takes time.
“Whenever one has time to write, edit, and delete, there is room for performance.” — Sherry Turkle
We need in-person connection
Social media is the fast food of relationships: immediate, satisfying, but leaves us hungry and coming back for more. We understand intuitively that a variety of food is important for a healthy body, but it’s equally important to have a variety of interactions for healthy relationships. If we only connect online, we never feel the connection that comes from sitting with someone.
Bingeing on social media leaves us psychologically malnourished. We need a balance of real life to go with our online ones.
"All the likes you may get cannot give you hug" – Dr. Ami Rokach
Social media has brought us a lot of benefits, but it’s also changed our behaviors and thinking, especially around relationships. To return to feeling accepted and close to others, we need to slow down and pay more attention to fewer people; make room for deeper relationships; and balance online and in-person time.
Revere was made to help us build meaningful relationships by providing a place to write all the details, stories, and experiences that are part of really knowing someone. It’s the details and the actions around them that will help us connect more meaningfully and make us happier again. There are no shortcuts.