As a journalism student, I understand the importance of social media. It’s a tool that is quickly accessible to share fast, breaking news. As a twenty year-old living in a major city, I understand how social media is effective, and even more so, a necessity. But, I have an issue when it’s used as a way for me to catch-up on life – especially when it seems to be the only way people want to communicate nowadays.
Don’t get me wrong. I love a great Instagram post as much as the next aficionado. I think it’s great that users want to use their social feeds as a way to express themselves. I want to enjoy myself and indulge in your passion too – whether it be travelling the world, partying away your paycheck on Saturday nights, admiring your dog that you’ve had since you were seven years-old, or your brand-new life in another place far away. I personally pride myself on my page and the places I’ve seen, the friends I have and the things we do. It’s interesting how social media permits us to enjoy each other’s great accomplishments, but it lacks detail.
A Snapchat story shows me where you’ve been and who you’re with. It allows everyone to, in a strange way, be there with you at the exact same time – without actually BEING there. A mere ten seconds shows your “audience” who you’re with. Because let’s be honest, it’s an audience. If they were your friends, they’d be with you in the very moment enjoying it as well.
After all, life is about experiencing first hand; and not about watching from the sidelines.
As these social media empires continue to grow and develop their brand even further with the use of “stickers”, “stories” and “Bitmojis”, it lacks one great asset: detail.
I don’t mean the technical detail. Every single pixel to a single sticker or Bitmoji is fine-tuned to perfection. The detail within those products is respectively present. (And I love using them. I honestly do. My Bitmoji is the cutest thing I have ever seen.)
Major app updates are released every so often to these key social media empires to make them even better, and in a way, we slowly lose communication with those who matter most.
Social media cheapens the way we communicate with our friends to a degree that makes it lack detail and emotion. And we’re all guilty.
Remember when you begged your parents to give you “unlimited texting” on your phone plan? You were probably thirteen years-old and decided you needed unlimited texting because it gave you a sense of inclusivity. You were finally in. You could finally text your friends all day about what the cute guy in your French class said to you. You could flirt with the girl who sits across from you on the bus ride home everyday at 3:30.
Texting provided detail. You couldn’t SHOW your friends what you meant or what you saw or what happened, so you had to explain. You started a conversation.
Eventually, that conversation ended but another quickly started. It was called unlimited texting for a reason, duh.
Today, you quickly take a blurry picture of your face or the items in front of you, and type into a little text box: “OMG JUST SAW THAT GUY FROM LAST WEEKEND.” You affix the text bar appropriately to the picture, probably covering a slight double chin or some unfortunate under eye circles, and select which friends you want to send it to. Everyone gets a sip of the tea, but not a full cup.
We’re all guilty of it. We’ve all done it because it’s our new normal.
There are most likely about six picture interactions exchanged with you and your pal about the happenings, and then it’s over. You go back to sending each other really funny pictures of each other, or you pop on a filter to keep it cute. Again, it’s our new standard. I definitely do this more times than I’d like to admit to in a single day.
What happened to texting each other the details? To explaining what happened and laughing about it together? What happened to catching up with each other and talking about what life has thrown at you since you’ve last spoken? What happened to saying hello to someone whom you haven’t seen in days, weeks, or months because you’re in a different place?
What happened to building our relationships?
Simply because we exchange a picture message with someone that lasts 10 seconds, doesn’t mean we know the full story. Simply because you snapchat me a picture of a candle, does not mean I know how you’ve been. And this works both ways. Every single party involved plays a part in this.
We’re lazy. We want a quick fix and quick chat that doesn’t involve details or explanation. We want to keep everyone in the loop, without running around in circles. We want our cheapened relationships to live long and prosper in all their depreciated glory.
I’ve had friends move away for school to other cities, provinces, countries – and we haven’t held a steady conversation since they’ve said goodbye. I’ve had friends get together with a significant other, date and then break-up – and I found out about every single thing about these short-lived relationships through a text box on Snapchat. I’ve also reflexively left people out of the loop, too, and blame it on life being “too busy.” We’re missing detail and conversation and connection. I want to give an opinion, hear an opposing one, and then talk about why we’re both so right and so wrong at the same time.
So, I have decided to take action on my relationships instead of bitching about them to myself. Here are 10 great things I’ve done and have found helpful to bettering relationships. Some aren’t tips, but rather realizations or affirmations.
1. Have a friend you can call at least twice a week and simply catch-up on life.
2. Be the first person to text someone else. Take initiative.
3. Meet new people! Sometimes cheapened relationships eventually become plastic, so go out and find authentic connections.
4. Continue to share your life on social media and build your platforms. Your life is your story and your feeds are your canvas.
5. Social media is a really great tool. Use it wisely, but don’t get lost within it. Don’t let social media portray you in a light that isn’t genuine to who you are in person.
6. Talk to people face-to-face! Put down your phone entirely and continue those great conversations or snap streaks or meme-sharing, once you’ve actually interacted with a real human.
7.Read lifestyle blogs and articles that let you experience life through someone else’s point of view. (Something like this!)
8. Text people a happy birthday, instead of Snapchatting them. Send them a real, detailed message about how much they mean to you.
9. Share your opinion.
10. Tell someone you miss them. Call them, text them, write them a letter, post a picture that reminds you both of a great time you’ve shared – whatever you’re most comfortable with!
Take action over your relationships and don’t let them become cheapened by the fact that social media gives a glimpse, but not the entire story. Continue to build and connect and create in every way possible – in person or online. Social media is a really great tool, but don’t let it control what happens to your connections.