There are individuals in my life that are absolutely lovely people. These are people I love, people that I call my friends. Yet, their social media presence bothers me so much that I’m typically not following them or trying hard to ignore their updates, tweets, posts, etc.
You see, in our current culture, we equate social media connection to friendship when this couldn’t be further from the truth. Your social media presence is whatever you make it; it doesn’t actually have to be representative of you in real life. Sometimes, a perfectly lovely person is absolutely intolerable on social media.
Unfortunately, as we pretend that social media connection and friendships are the same thing, feelings start getting attached to online following and friendship that should never be involved. Therefore, when somebody you’re close with in real life realizes you aren’t Facebook friends or following them on Twitter, they become offended. It is a completely ridiculous cycle.
This should be absolutely obvious, but there is one thing that we should drill into our heads over and over: You don’t love a person any less or ruin a friendship by not being connected on social media.
This notion has come as a result of the digitalization of our culture. Technology has advantages, but has put us all at a tremendous disadvantage when trying to maintain and cultivate human relationships. Technology tells us that we can simplify it to the liking of a status, the clicking of a few buttons, a carefully thought out text message. Although technology can help us keep in contact with people who live far distances away from us, it isn’t what will help a relationship grow and flourish.
We are absolutely fools if we believe that REAL connection, real relationship can be cultivated via social media.
Fighting against this mentality is going to take some work. First of all, it’ll require you feeling selfish when using your social media. Is there someone who you’re good friends with offline, but who has an online presence that makes you cringe? Unfriend, remove, unfollow-whatever it takes to make you stop cringing each time you open an app.
Instead, and this is the tricky part, work on spending time with that person…in person. Go get coffee, talk about life, or even call one another if distance truly is a problem. If they bring up your “unfollow” or “unfriending”, love them enough to let them know that you don’t want their online presence to change your perception of them, and that you want to focus on in-person time with them.
Our friendships and our social media have become intertwined to the point of lunacy, but we don’t have to leave them that way. Run your social media accounts in a way that YOU enjoy. Even more so, focus on cultivating the relationships in your life by investing actual face-to-face time into them, and not pretending that you’re doing so by clicking buttons.