Recently, I read an intern’s post on TWLOHA.com called “You Are Not Your Facebook Profile”. The writer, Clair, brought to light several good points and it had me reflecting on my own views of social networking.
Like most people, I am an active user of social networks. I have a Twitter, an online art gallery, a Goodreads author profile, a LinkedIn profile, a professional Facebook page, and a personal one. I may not keep up with them all on a daily basis, but they’re out there. In many ways, I’m constantly connected.
The internet and social media are amazing tools, but sometimes they can get out of hand.
“Balanced, intentional use of the internet can have far-reaching benefits. But research also shows that extensive time online can sometimes contribute to feelings of loneliness and anxiety.” – Clair, You Are Not Your Facebook Profile
There are many articles that talk about the adverse effects of social networking. Most notably, the disconnect that leads to depression and anxiety. I’ve experienced the double-edged sword. I love how small social networking can make the world sometimes. I can share glimpses of my adventures with friends and family. Updates from my brother who lives on the opposite end of the country makes the miles seem smaller. E-mails from my father makes me feel like the states don’t stand between us. Professionally, the web and its media broadens my audience to limitless proportions.
But I realize social media is not a replacement for true connection with oneself and our community.
I am the sort of person who values quiet. I need it, really. For me, being constantly connected with the world is stressful. There is a time for social interaction and a time for solitude. Both fall into a balance. When that balance shifts, so does my health— mentally and physically.
I recently took a sabbatical of sorts from social media. Aside from the usual work related posts, my pages remain silent. You’d be surprised how nice it felt to leave my phone in the car last weekend. I spent Saturday night at a wedding where I had the chance to get to know new friends. On Sunday, I shared an afternoon on the beach with Charming and two others. No status bells, no e-mails buzzing in. Today, I am writing a little, but I’m enjoying the silence where I allow myself to pause and simply “be”. The ability to actually sit down and not feel the need to be doing something is a necessity. Sometimes we need to just put it all on pause. We can do that, you know. It’s totally okay.
This is what life used to be like. We were 100% present. Not texting or posting on Facebook, but talking with one another. Laughing. Experiencing the moment without pausing to document it all for the world to see. Facebook didn’t exist. Updates didn’t matter.
They still shouldn’t.
There are times when I fear we as people lose ourselves to the beast of technology. We get sucked in, forgetting that real life isn’t inside the screen. The real us exists outside the box, in real settings, with real people, experiencing real things.
“We often forget that we are nature. Nature is not something separate from us. So when we say that we have lost our connection to nature, we’ve lost our connection to ourselves.” ― Andy Goldsworthy
Throughout my youth and even to this day, my Dad often tells me, “Remember who you belong to.” These words have taken on many different meanings throughout my life. He doesn’t refer to himself, but to God, the Great Mystery. We are part of this grand spirit that exists in the earth, in each other, and we were made to be a part of one another and the natural world.
Don’t forget you were made to know others and to be known. Not just through social media (that world can be hollow and one-sided). You were made to be touched, to be heard, and to experience life in the present. Here. Now.
Are you? If not, log off. Go outside. Call up a friend. Experience life. For all we know, it only happens once. You deserve to make the most of it.