A Letter About Loneliness and Social Media

Dear Friends,
This isn’t a fun or entertaining post, but it is a post worth writing (and reading). Transition periods are hard, and I am experiencing this first hand. Relationships deteriorate under the pressure of separation and differing life experiences. Graduating means losing a lot of friends to moves, and a lot of friends who are still in university and experiencing different things. And it’s interesting to see how social media plays a role in that feeling of loss.

Steve Furtick says “The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.” I recently watched this video (I’ll admit, I found it on Facebook) and it reminded me of the superficiality of Facebook and Twitter and Instagram and all those other social media outlets. The advice given on business sites is “keep it positive!” No one wants to read negative posts. People put their best face forward on social media. Anything negative or unhappy is swept under the rug, because no one is interested in hearing about that. But the superficiality of social media is having a negative impact on people.

So here’s a real moment. This definitely isn’t from my highlight reel. This is my behind-the-scenes tape and I’ll admit it: I’m lonely. I’ve forgotten how to be comfortably alone with myself. I’m convinced that because it looks like everyone else is out there having a good time, I should be too. That I need to constantly surround myself with people at all times to be whole. I’ve forgotten how to be vulnerable in person, and I love the delete button in text messages as much as the next person. I want to be this perfect person, who always knows the right thing to say at the right moment, but like the video says, that isn’t reality. That’s why I like the video. It’s a really strong reminder at a time when I’m very down. It gives me a little kick and says, you’re not alone in feeling this way. Loneliness is almost a societal trait in our ultra individualistic culture.

That’s why I think vulnerability is so important. It’s an art I haven’t mastered yet, and in a social media world, it’s one that seems to be dying. That’s a real shame, because being vulnerable with other people is a powerful thing. Just ask Brene Brown. Even though it’s hard, being vulnerable has worth. Too bad our social media doesn’t really offer much in the way of vulnerability.

In spite of the video on loneliness, I don’t expect that people will suddenly revolutionize their actions on social media. I doubt that vulnerable statuses will start popping up all over the place. Because that’s the reality of social media, I just wanted to let you know that if you are lonely, you are not the only one. I wanted to remind you that social media is a facade and people aren’t really what they appear to be. And I wanted to encourage you to read Facebook and Twitter with a grain of salt. People aren’t presenting all of themselves. Don’t compare your every day to people’s Facebook day, because those things will almost never be equal. Be honest with yourself, and get off social media. Meet people at their everyday, because I think it will make you feel better about your own.

Sincerely,
Someone who wants to remind you that everyone else is struggling too