Social media doesn't replace real interaction

(Illustration/Tribune News Service)
(Illustration/Tribune News Service)

Although social media has become a go-to option for most people to communicate with their friends, family and business associates, it should never be seen as a viable replacement for face-to-face interactions.

Mobile devices have made it much easier for people to log online and talk to each other. Outside of what social media can bring to the table, people have the opportunity to call each other on the phone or send texts.

The amount of information that’s sent through these media is astounding. Despite the ease of social media, there is something different about sitting across from someone you know and having an actual conversation.

As the amount of people who are following you on social media increases, you will find that these so-called relationships are increasingly hollow. Nobody can give thousands of people the one-on-one time they need. We all end up having a considerable list of people we never talk to.

Anyone who has a social media profile is in the game of making their following bigger. We look to the number of followers we have and hope that we can derive some meaning from that total.

The same thing happens to people who only add people they have interacted with in their professional or personal lives. While this approach is understandable, it’s not looked at kindly by people who think others should grow their social media presence without restrictions.

The task of micromanaging one’s social media profiles creates a considerable amount of stress that doesn’t necessarily have to be there. Keeping up this façade can make having social media profiles more trouble than they’re worth.

If you want to be happy with what you’re doing online, you need to understand what it’s all about. Avoid going into social media without any preconceived notions about how things will happen. You need to add the people you know and then make it a point to interact with them on a regular basis. That’s all you need to do. Don’t fret over what people are saying and whether you should add new people or reject them. Look at everything casually and stop before you put too much thought into it.

Certain people in your life need to be put into a category separate from anyone else. The people you put into this category must be left off social media altogether. You can have them on your friends or followers lists, but you should not leave them there. You need to make them a priority. Meet with them as often as you can. Remind them about how important they are to you. Never judge the value of your presence in their life based on what happens on social media. A truly productive personal relationship does not need artificial metrics to sustain itself.

A world without social media is one where people can allow themselves to be in the moment and enjoy what’s going on around them. The constant presence of mobile devices causes all of us to become constant biographers, always recording and never processing.

We feel like we need to continue perpetuating this behavior to feed a supposed demand placed on us from our following. In the end, it turns out we are only doing this to bring attention back to ourselves and get some sort of reinforcement for the things we’re doing in our lives. The people who post the most content end up being the least popular on these platforms.

Although technology has made communicating with our fellow man easier and, at the same time, more difficult, we are able to reach out to a much wider audience than we would have ever been able to before. This ability comes with its fair share of responsibility that few of us are living up to.

We need to take it back to basics and remember how we interacted with each other prior to social media. Developing this sense of self-awareness would eliminate some of the destructive trends that are popping up in social media. We would all be benefit from some much-needed evaluations of our social media habits.