The internet, and social media in particular, has given us new options for connecting with people. “Friend” people on Facebook, follow people on Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr, or connect with people on LinkedIn. But do these digital connections have the same meaning as a flesh-and-blood connection? By that I mean actually working at a establishing a connection with somebody the old fashioned way through face-to-face interactions, real conversations, and sending messages more than 140 characters long.
I was on Facebook last month and happened to see a rather humorous, but odd posting, from a friend of mine. She posted something about her horrendous morning commute, including a germ-filled encounter with a sickly person. On the one hand, for those of us that brave the wilds of public transit, it was pretty funny. On the other hand, I couldn’t help but think not that long ago this was the kind of thing I would have only shared with a close friend via call/text. Maybe I would’ve ranted about it to a co-worker. But broadcasting it on Facebook?
When I see these types of things shared so broadly I have to wonder about the motivation behind it. Is it because we think our life events are so amazing, funny, or remarkable that other people are really interested in knowing about them? Is it because we want the attention and rush of happy emotions we get when others “like” or “favorite” our posts? Is this the kind of thing that really makes us feel more connected?
Everybody talks about how great it is to be connected through social media, but are we? People use social media to foster connections, but I have to think maybe this isn’t so successful for everybody when I hear about companies offering professional cuddlers for people starved for human touch. Or I see companies with boyfriends for hire. All those Facebook “friends” and not one who could be relied on for a hug or as a date for some event? Then I see how people interact face to face and the availability of these services doesn’t seem so bizarre to me.
Here’s a photo I snapped surreptitiously of a couple spending time together. If this is what it looks like to be in a couple, no wonder we need professional cuddling services.