Social Media Is Not The Problem.


I’m an introvert, and I’m happy.  I’m comfortable with my own company and don’t ever feel the need to be entertained. Why others need to is a mystery to me. Sometimes, that lack of understanding is a disadvantage, but I am most of all happy with myself.

Recently, as I have watched the news, I have been struck by how needy people are, especially those in power. The need to be noticed and to be seen to be noticed is in my opinion perverse. However, coming from someone that prefers his own company you may not agree with my analysis. We are social beings and have a need for company and companionship. There is research to show the benefits of our social nature. I am not so naive as to discount the work but I have concerns about the direction of our community building. I’m not sure we are building the communities we need. Your smartphone should not be the limit of your social group.

My favorite pastime is walking in nature alone, and I have spent hours walking alone listening and observing the life around me. I don’t pretend to have any greater skills of observation than others, but I find peace in those moments I’m alone.  Like most, I have my smartphone connected at all times and within easy reach. I am connected and enjoy the ability to interact when needed. I just don’t think I need to interact at all times. In recent years I have paired back and have tried to live more “in the moment” than via my connectedness. Yes my phone is connected but my notifications are off. There are no email notifications, app notifications are off too. Only those who may need immediate responses are allowed.

I hear the complaints about social media making us less social. Social media is not the problem, we are. Smartphones, tablets, and computers are excellent tools. The problem is the workman. The connected world is still new, and society is still learning how to manage these tools. We need to teach our children how to use technology to enhance their lives while also not being overwhelmed. The commercialization of the tools, including the internet, is a push to make you the product.  Social media is a tool, don’t be the product. Use these tools to make your life easier, use it to your benefit. Use the internet as intended by its inventors, a means to communicate over unbridgeable distances. If we direct our children to see computers as a means not an end we will all be better for it.

As I see it, this intersection of valid use and addiction to connectivity is where we need to intervene. I don’t pretend to have the answers, but I would suggest the answers must start with us being able to be alone without being bored. We must learn to be with ourselves.

The ability to introspect and to self evaluate is essential to loving and accepting who we are. Loving ourselves and accepting our flaws is the beginning of understanding and acceptance of others. Acceptance of others does not mean we acquiesce to their opinions, but it allows us to be comfortable with our differences and not be stressed.

If we first learn to accept ourselves then we can more easily accept others. If we can become more comfortable with silence and our own company we will not need the approval of people we don’t know or will never see. Let’s spend some time with ourselves and unplug a little. I’m going to follow my own advice.

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