Hey friends, Dan here, coming at you with an op ed piece on the constructs of “Social Media” and how its place in our world can and should evolve with the pandemic we are faced with today.
I grew up in a very interesting stretch of time. Some of my formative and developmental years were spent without the world wide web, social media, Prime delivery, smart phones, and a lot of the other technological “conveniences” that seem so integrated with life today that it can be a challenge just trying to imagine the world where these things don’t exist anymore.
We can instantly access a world wide database of knowledge and educate ourselves on any topic we choose. We can read scientific studies, great works of literature, editorials, opinion pieces, blogs, crowd sourced information databases, you name it.
We can keep the world aware of what we are doing on a daily basis with a single post, and we can also shape and mold the “image” of who we are in the digital space by editing and trimming the aspects of our life on film through physical and lingual “filters.”
We can connect with friends, family, and meet new people across the globe with a screen and a camera.
We can order things at the push of a button, and if we pay a little extra, it can arrive to us at a speed that only an assembly line full of AI that LITERALLY guesses what you are going to order next could provide.
And yet … the more interconnected our world becomes, the more distant we as humans seem to become with each other.
Many face to face interactions with other humans, replaced with machines and devices that prioritize speed and accuracy over the human touch.
You don’t even have to CALL the restaurant anymore to place a delivery order.
Is this bad? Is it the leading cause of “the downward spiral of humanity and society”? Honestly, that’s impossible to quantify or test with reliable data because there are far too many variables to control. The rate of technological growth and the rate of human social disconnect is absolutely related but one does not also inherently hinge on the other.
This convenience, of super connectivity, seems like it can’t even be halted by a pandemic.
Even though we are in pretty much a national and international shut down, my orders and deliveries through Prime are basically still arriving incredibly quick. Granted, this is through the hard work of people and a fusion of technology, but can you think back to a time before such a convenience existed, and fathom that that same convenience could still exist in a global pandemic?
With what we are currently facing, isolation, and a lack of human contact is now starting to take the center stage. Considering humans are very social creatures, its impact is very real and very easy to feel for many of us.
We are isolated to our places of refuge, but still have ALL of the technologies at our disposal that simultaneously keep us connected, but also allow us to disconnect and not interact with other people.
This is a perfect opportunity to reflect on what we have let social media evolve into and decide where we want the future of it to lead. Afterall, the very first word of it is “social.”
We can use these platforms to reach out and talk to friends, loved ones, or complete strangers.
Currently, we are all going through the same thing. Situations like this are social equalizers (no, they don’t disrupt or change social inequities) but despite someone's material standing in the world, we are all human beings, and human beings have an inherent need to be part of a group, to be social, to be seen.
Honestly … for the last few years I have struggled with being a part of social media. I let the aspects of it that were fake and disingenuous turn me off and help me tune out. Starting to avoid it, and try my darndest not to exist on it. Or at least, I thought that’s what it was.
It was really more of an excuse to tune everything out, and a lot of the people who were immediately around me.
My loneliness I attributed to how “stupid social media” was changing the world, was just a projection of how I was feeling inside. No inanimate object or concept can directly influence how we act.
Currently, I am trapped in a house. Trapped in a house with 2 animals that dote on me, and the love of my life. The absolutely least stressful things in my world right now are those 3 living breathing beings. It’s allowed me the time to pause, breathe, and really reconnect with the one person I was inadvertently drifting from, and start applying more of my energy into giving the two creatures who loved me unconditionally no matter what I do, more of my time and undivided attention.
Unfortunately, not everyone is as lucky to be trapped in a house under pleasant circumstances.
But here’s where I want to share the other life lesson I’ve been learning recently as a part of this experience.
You can connect with people, in a very genuine way, that doesn’t involve you being in the same room. Of course, nothing will ever replace the aspect of human contact, touch, and the energy you can feel by being in the presence of someone else.
Thursdays; I gather a group of my friends together on a platform called Zoom, and we teleconference so we can hear each other, and see each other. It’s the same group of people I used to play trivia on Thursday nights with (when I wasn’t working or isolating.) We get together on this video platform, and through the wonders of technology and connectivity, we all play a game called Quiplash with each other. It keeps us laughing for hours while we reconnect, and discuss with each other how life in the pandemic era is going. Creating new memories, and sharing old.
I used to miss a lot of trivia nights, again, in favor of working, or self-isolating. I haven’t missed a single Zoom call yet with this group, and I don’t plan on it any time soon.
Another fun fact … our “trivia group” has also grown in number, as the ease of which we can actually connect and play games together from the comfort of our living room has become more apparent.
On Sunday, Jamie and I will be using this same technology to spend time with our families as to not miss out on Easter (no, I’m not religious, but it’s still a tradition to spend time with the family for us.) I was honestly perplexed, and a little downtrodden when I started to think, there would be no family gathering this year at the normal date and time.
But enter technology and now, we can still be together verbally and visually.
The other night, a friend of mine discussed with me how he and his family were able to use telecommunication tech to do their Seder for Passover.
I’ve even been able to use telecomm tech to keep in touch with my clients AND continue training them!
Social media and technology are not the bane of social constructs in society. They are a tool.
A tool used by us, to either disconnect from everyone, or a tool to help us connect with anyone.
It is up to us, and us alone to decide the future of our communication technology and how we use it.
I urge you. Use it to reconnect with those that are near and dear to you. Especially during these uncertain and crazy times. Nothing in life is permitted or given, and we should never have to look back and wish we had connected with someone more before they are gone. Whether they move on and out of our life because we disconnected with them, or they pass from this world, and we are never given another chance to.
I challenge you; use technology to enhance your connectivity, and use this pandemic as the means to practice.