Monday, February 4, 2013

Social Media Loneliness

I am home sick today battling what might possibly be the worst cold of my life - I am pretty sure I look like the walking dead. In my head-cold, low-fever, ear-pressure, voice-loss, Vicks-covered state, I've been up to about two things: watching endless indie "heartfelt comedies" on Netflix (in the sleepless moments of my day) and contemplating life (in the sleepless moments of my night). And though it feels a bit ironic to share it in this medium, I wanted to write about one of the things I've been contemplating and my resolution to solve it: social media loneliness (and envy, and unhappiness...). 

It's not a secret and countless articles have been written about it, but I think I'm finally facing it personally - my constant connection with social media is making me feel isolated, jealous, and lonely... exactly the opposite of what it was intended to do. Social media is my hobby (this blog for example): I am addicted to Instagram, recently introduced to Vine, on Facebook often, I tweet, text, blog, check-in, and pin. Though each of those activities make me happy - I love creating content to share with others, I think I have become overloaded and exhausted.

Facebook has become a tool for me to compare my life to those around me. When I log on and see that little right hand corner "_____ is engaged to _____" notification, I think about the way my life is not following the same trajectory. It makes me worry that I'm behind the rest of my peers. The same goes for birth announcements, new relationships, grad school acceptances, promotions, and even photo albums of someone's travels abroad. Instead of appreciating my success and my personal happiness, I'm judging my life by the standards of online content that doesn't truly reflect someone's life. We don't share the saddest moments of our lives on Facebook or Instagram - we share the happiest and it's unfair to judge my life based on the happiest snapshots of those around me.

It isn't only about comparing our lives to others, but also about knowing too much. In my parents' time, if you called a friend to ask them to hang out and they said they were busy, that was that. Now, if you call a friend to ask them to hang out and they say no, you can see, through Foursquare or Instagram, Facebook, Vine exactly what they are doing. Though they said they were busy, they're having drinks near your house, or hanging out with a different set of friends - all information you don't need. It should be good enough to know that someone is busy and not see their entire day's schedule, mapped out before you. On weekends we can see where everyone is, what everyone is doing, and if we're sitting at home, eating chips and watching re-runs, it makes us feel inadequate or unaccomplished. In reality, though, we're not seeing the places someone isn't "checking in" to or posting about - no one checks in to their couch or their bed at eight o'clock on a Saturday night.

In sharing these little nuggets of our lives through tweets and filtered photos, through "timeline events" and mini six-second video loops - we're choosing to showcase a certain set of our experiences and activities, the nice appetizer tray we made for a party, the new outfit we just bought. We're not sharing our whole lives - we're not sharing the day we looked terrible, or the hole we got in our favorite sweater. We're not sharing the reprimand we got at work, or a snapshot of the angry customer that yelled at us on a Monday morning. We're sharing the beautiful accomplishments, and it creates such a false impression for those following our feeds and of those feeds that we follow.

I know that the answer to this is disconnecting and working on both real-life relationships and focusing on not comparing myself to others. With this in mind, I am going Facebook dark (I'm maintaining my account as it's associated to my Facebook page for this blog, but I am not checking my personal Facebook for a month). I have deleted my Facebook apps from my iPad and iPhone and removed it as a bookmark from Chrome. I've deleted my Fourquare app from my phone (goodbye push notifications!) and have done some much needed Instagram unfollowing, in order to get rid of those sources of envy from my daily life. I'm going to work on being more present in my life and less present on social media (besides the blog, of course). Perhaps I'll even work on some non-technology based hobbies like my crocheting or baking. Get ready... I'm going to be bored out of my mind and insanely productive.


  1. Great Post and I love the honesty. It's probably a feeling we will all face at some point or another and it's definitely healthy to find and keep yourself centred.
    I hope you feel better soon and stay as social as healthily possible.

    TL. Xx

  2. Just started following you!! love the way you write, completely agree with you on facebook... never justified it like that to myself but definitely put things into perspective for me!
    check out my outfit posts and follow back if you like xx

  3. i hope you feel better soon! i totally agree with what you're saying, especially with all of the "life updates" on facebook now...i have been trying to stay away as much as i can, but it is tough when you have a blog and want to market it and be "social." but i think that a lot of people our age spend wayyyy too much time living in the virtual world and not enough time spending their hours with people in the real world. :)

  4. Oh no :( Hope you feel better soon. I had the same cold, lasted just over 2 weeks. Get lots of rest!



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