A couple of weeks ago I had a weekend where I felt a bit alone and I told you about it here. And I decided to dig a little further as to why people are feeling lonely and does social media have anything to do with it? In the early days of social media things felt very different. I can still remember how I ‘met’ a new friend on twitter. We were talking in 140 characters with each other but we did feel that connection. Yes, you can feel really connect to other people through social media. You can like or dislike someone digitally as weird as that maybe sounds. That new friend is now a close ‘real life’ friend (it helps that she doesn’t live in another country) and I’ve met countless other people the same way.
Think about the early days of food blogging. I’ve been blogging for more than 11 years and in the beginning it was a small group and the people I met online I actually met in real life through blogging conferences or other workshops I followed around the world. I still know most of those people and connect to most of those people on a regular basis. Fast forward to today where social media has gotten bigger and bigger. Blogging is one of those things where people either tell you that it is over and done with or they tell you it will always be here. We will see. Time will tell.
These days social media is much more competitive or that’s how it feels to me. How much followers do you have? And even when you have a fair amount of let’s say 10.000 followers on Instagram you see loads of others out there with multiple amounts of that. Ranging from anywhere above 10k to as high as millions.
And have you been out for dinner with friends lately? How’s the phone etiquette getting along? It’s funny how you can sometimes see a table of four people with everyone bend over their phones. Being alone in the company of friends! While I do use my phone to take a quick snap of the food I’ve eaten, I will keep it in my bag during dinner. That way I am not distracted from an actual conversation with an actual friend.
Depression and addiction
Studies have shown that social media can increase feelings of depression in young people. Due to the fact that they scroll mindlessly through beautiful picture after beautiful picture of other people’s life. They might start to feel they’re missing out on something and start to get feelings of depression or loneliness. I found out that it can get rather addictive to check your stats and likes. And research shows that social media can create the same effects as substance abuse.
On the positive
But it’s not all bad. Social media also has the power to connect people that might not live next to each other. Have a rare illness? You’re bound to find someone with the same illness online. Support can be a major thing when it comes to social media. It might not be real people sitting next to your bed, but the warm words of a friend 10.000 miles away when you’re alone in your bed, can feel like all the difference in the world.
Social media has brought me quite a lot. Even though I hate it at times, I cannot imagine live without it. The answer though is all in the balance. If you become to caught up in the digital world, you might forget to live life in the real world. So leave your phone home every once in a while (what?? Are you serious!!!???) or in your bag (that sounds way better to me!) and have an actual conversation with people.
What’s your take on social media?
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