Social media has tremendously changed the way we interact with one another. In a split of a second, any person with an internet connection can easily communicate in multiple ways with people from nearly every part of the world.
The reason why Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media platforms have attracted hundreds of millions of active global users lies in people’s desire to feel connected. At our very core, we all long to experience feelings of togetherness and belonging. The sense of being connected with others makes us feel loved, secure, happy — it helps us break our attachment to our tiny little egos and identify with something bigger — a community. But can social media truly achieve that?
Well, not really, and this is one of the hidden dangers of social media: Fooling us that it can substitute the real thing we’re seeking for. Although social media does help us to connect, the reality is that it does so only on a superficial level. Social media allows us to communicate through text, image and video, which is all good and nice — but can that substitute intimacy and personal bonding?
I myself spend much of my time online publishing content and responding to messages I receive on various social media platforms. I do feel a sense of connection with the people I interact with online, yet I know that there is something missing in that connection. What is missing is physical and spiritual contact — a deep look into another’s eyes, the touch of another’s hand, the feeling of an invisible thread connecting two or more peoples’ hearts.
Looked at this way, despite its positive aspects in uniting us, social media can also separate us. However, this negative, dangerous side, lies not in social media itself, but in the way its platforms are set up, how we use them and what we expect from them. Social media, like most tools in existence, can be used for or against us. If we use it to deal with feelings of alienation, we’ll not achieve much. If, on the other hand, we use it in conscious awareness of its limitations in how it can serve us to connect and communicate, we’ll be able to utilize it for our benefit, without feeling entrapped or betrayed by it.