In a world where we can seemingly be connected to thousands of people at once I am constantly aware of how isolated people feel. Where the focus of many young people is on having MORE followers and MORE likes it seems to come at a cost of real connection, acceptance and belonging.
And so the focus goes on how social media is making us disconnected. How technology is hindering our sense of community.
But social media isn’t doing anything.
Social media is a tool. You can use it to feel connected or you can use it to compare and feel isolated.
The issue isn’t the tool, it’s our attitudes, thoughts and feelings that are the issue.
If you want to go off Facebook to connect in person then great, do that. If you feel that your interactions on Twitter are hollow then leave it for a while. But let’s not use gross sweeping generalisations about how social media is bad.
Let’s view all ways of communicating as a way of connecting and let’s focus on the CONNECTING part.
Letters, phone calls, emails, Twitter, parties, Facebook, telegrams, Instagram, meet-ups, lunch dates, Pinterest, Skype, meetings, Google + are all tools to use as we wish. The connection and belonging comes about because we find people who we feel comfortable around and can share our true selves with them. We can connect when we let go of judgement and comparison. We can form amazing bonds with people because we care about them.
Just yesterday I was out walking along the South Coast with three fabulous women, two of whom I had never met before. A Facebook group connected us and the connection will go much further than the online world thanks to many stories and laughs shared and our general love of mini adventures and the great outdoors.
We are all seeking to find people who think and act like us. We want to find people we can be ourselves around. So let’s put our focus on THAT. Let’s aim to CONNECT to like-minded people whenever we can. Let’s share our ideas and thoughts with others in a way that will bring us TOGETHER. Let’s make time to identify and connect with others who we enjoy the company of.
Over the past year I have met some amazing people that I only became aware of through social media. I don’t know if our paths would have crossed in an alternative universe (ie 1986!) and so I am thankful and grateful for social media for putting these people in my life (although the real connection did occur in the offline world!). Sure, I can allow myself to be swept into the unconscious, mindless, time filling use of all these online tools, but I am compelled to focus on the connection and through my love of community, collaboration, networks and gatherings I hope to help others find their like-minded people and leave behind the isolation.
So if you are feeling isolated, look for ways to connect. And if you want to connect to me, check out the events that I run, or find me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, send me an email or whatever way appeals to you. Remember the tool doesn’t matter, it’s the outcome we are after.