Trading Social Media for Deeper Connection
Human connection shouldn’t be like mining for gold.
Memes. Ever so slightly slanted news articles. Infographics with totally false information. Someone’s cat taking a nap. Sponsored ads for products we don’t need.
That’s not connection. That’s noise.
Recently, I had a falling out with a group of friends over the fact that I was not participating enough in our group communication on a social media platform. The communication was daily and plentiful. It was not unusual to have 30 or more videos to watch every day.
Sometimes, the videos are important; one friend’s dad just passed away. Sometimes, the videos are mundane; one friend really likes the new smoothie place in Peoria.
Wading in there is like panning for gold. There is a lot to sift through in order to get to one little nugget. I’m greedy. I don’t want the silt. I want the nugget of gold.
Tell me the important stuff. The hard stuff. The real stuff. The hurt. The joy. Don’t tell me about your salad.
One friend of mine who is part of the group tried to be the peacemaker. She did an amazing job of validating my concerns while expressing those of the group. Everyone else kept up. Everyone else was investing the time on the app. Everyone else is busy, too. Why couldn’t I?
What it boiled down to was that I just don’t like it. I need a deeper connection than that.
What I ended up feeling like was that I got caught in the middle-aged woman version of “Well, if you can’t keep up with our Snapchat group text, then you can’t sit by us at lunch anymore.” It’s bullshit. I’m not having it.
But this is a direct result of what social media has created. We’re absolutely passive in our connection with people. We want communication to be as easy as possible. We’ve become exceptionally lazy in connecting with people.
I miss the idea of having a friend come over for coffee. Saturday morning. Tuesday evening. It’s what my parents did. Once or twice a week, my dad’s friend Eddie would come over and he’d sit with my parents at the table in the kitchen, and have a cup of coffee.
It didn’t matter what time of day it was, my mom would make a pot of coffee. Eddie never came over for a beer. Just coffee. Always coffee.
My mom also made sure we always had something to offer guests that came over, usually coffee cake. I want this in my life. It’s an odd thing to say considering that I frequently complain about how little time I have. But, I do have the time. We all do.
My friend Paul doesn’t have any social media, at all. The only way to get a hold of him is to call him or text him. Oddly, I don’t even have his phone number. Still, I consider him one of my most trusted and dearest friends. The kind that would drop everything if you had a moment of need.
How is that even possible?
It’s easy. When I see him, we talk. We get into conversation. We laugh our asses off. Simply — we connect. It’s not hard. But, in a world of instant gratification, this doesn’t work.
Here’s the kicker for me: I don’t want to be that accessible. Our level of accessibility has a direct correlation to people’s expectations of us. They text us and want an immediate response. Message us and, if they can see we’re online, we had better respond.
I deal with expectations of immediate response 40 hours a week. It’s called work. If you expect an immediate response from me, you just became a job. I want a friend, not a moonlighting gig.
I want to trade in the internet connection for real human connection. My concern is how many other people would be on board with this? How many other “friends” will I lose because I refuse to use a social media app?
We don’t want to talk to anyone. We don’t want to be bothered. We don’t like the phone ringing. The reality is that the phone ringing is no inconvenience whatsoever. It’s that we’re too accustomed to everything being overly convenient.
The problem is that we have no desire to give someone our undivided attention. If we text them or message them on social media or comment on a post, we can do it in the middle of drying the dishes.
What I want to know is when the fuck did drying the dishes become so damn important that we have to multitask connecting with people while we do it?
I have exactly four people I talk to on the phone. My mom. My sister. Two friends. I have no idea what it is with the weirdos who like a good long chat. But, they’re my people. I look forward to those calls.
I’m not going to make some dramatic declaration that I’m abandoning social media. I’m just going to let it fade away. I’m going to replace it with things that matter. I’m getting rid of the noise.
I‘m going to do things like write letters to my friends. Actual, real, hand-written letters. My friend had back surgery yesterday. I’m going to send him a “Get Well Soon” card. That feels good to me. I’m sure it will feel good to him, too. Who doesn’t want to feel good?