The beauty of social media is how it has completely opened the world; accessibility is in vogue, and it’s definitely not going out of fashion for the foreseeable future.
This kind of accessibility is both terrifying and mind blowing at the same time, it brings the entire world right into your room/lap/hand and in turn, puts you straight into someone else’s room/lap/hand (in a completely non creepy but sometimes kinda creepy way). The rise of the internet and technology has opened up a public forum of monumental proportions; a thought you cast out into the web has the potential to be picked up by millions of people, and responded to equally. Essentially what I am saying is that, warranted or not there is an entire world of people out there ready to impart their knowledge (or lack thereof) upon you.
Enter stage left: Multiple social platforms providing strangers with open channels of communication directed specifically at you.
The obvious first question that comes to mind is WHY has this become such a norm in our current socioeconomic state. Why in the world do we find it more than acceptable to say (hypothetically of course), decide whether or not we could potentially like someone based on, oh I don’t know, 6 photos (just taking a stab in the dark here) and a 300 word (but usually less, way less) biography. Then if (and only IF) they have the same idea about you, a medium for conversation opens up and thus the connection starts. But, you know, we’re speaking in strict hypotheticals here because that sounds silly, doesn’t it.
Here you sit with a plethora of open conversations with people you never even knew existed, the empty text box waiting in the anticipation of an opening line and wham! Three days later you’re neck deep trying to explain why your mum losing you in a mall when you were three lead you to have issues with people wearing socks in bed…or something. We get so caught up in these online conversations, and the idea of the people behind them that when we take a step back to assess the situation we get hit with the sudden realisation somewhere along the lines of ‘shit, I’ve never actually met this guy/girl’ and therein lies the problem. Actually, problem is a strong word to use – it’s more of a situation, which more than one of us (including myself) have become accustomed to.
The obvious next question is: Why do we do it?
WELL, from personal experience, and from what I have gathered from many wine (tequila) fuelled conversations with friends about this – it can usually be narrowed down to one (or more) of three scenarios.
1. External validation – When you’re single it’s slightly more difficult to come across third party opinions and conversations when you’re so engrossed within your friend group (totally not a bad thing) and when you’re like me – tight friend group, work with only two other people – choices are definitely limited. Sometimes the only option is to reach out to someone with a fresh set of eyes, and an unbiased (for the most part) opinion to get the perspective and answers you need.
2. Loneliness/Boredom – now ya’ll know how fast time magically passes when you’re getting a good thumb workout from the ol’ swipey swipey. I get it (I’m guilty of doing it) when you’re bored and alone and have all these people in your pocket only a thumb taps away it’s easy to fall into the rabbit hole of ‘hey, how’s your day going?’ and heart eye emoji’s. Is it a crime? Nope.
3. Looking for something genuine – admittedly ‘genuine’ isn’t usually the first adjective that pops to mind when playing word association, but my mind-set has always been something along the lines of: If I am a (relatively) normal, and decent human being looking for genuine connection and potentially someone who I can invest my time into there must be someone else out there who is looking for the same. Whether or not that ‘someone’ is your piece of pie is completely irrelevant in this scenario but you get where I’m going. In simpler terms – it’s almost impossible that you’re the only one out there looking for serious connection.
Thinking about it this is all well and good, but I can hear the faint cries way up in the bleachers ‘but why don’t you just meet people in real life?’ and for lack of better words my answer is bitch I’m busy. When can I even find the time to seek out strangers organically (super creepy as well by the way) – but it’s the truth! I am at work, I spend time with my friends, there are rarely occasions where I am introduced to new people outside of my friend groups, when I am out I am not concerned with you unless I’m about to destroy you on the dance floor, and to top it all off apps have almost completely ruined in-person interactions. People (including myself) are now so terrified of rejection that they’d rather have it in the form of a no-reply than a ‘sorry, I have a boyfriend’ in line at your local coffee shop. Why? Because rejection via the interweb is much preferred over a scoff and hair flip to the face which you know, makes sense, but is it an excuse for not picking up your lady-balls (or man-balls) and talking to the person you’ve been lurking on for the last couple weeks even though you hate cold brew kombucha and turmeric lattes but buy them anyway in the hopes of catching their attention? Probably not. Also, save your money because words are free.
At the risk of sounding like (another) motivational poster I will end with this: Everyone is a stranger until you talk to them. It doesn’t matter about how many conversations you’re having, it’s about making sure these interactions meaningful (online, or off) and asking yourself whether they are adding substance to your life, or if you’re just passing time. I know from experience of being an incredibly time-poor person that the little time I do have to invest in new relationships is something I take very seriously (and very personally when someone wastes that time), so if I am making real effort to keep in touch and spend my time in your company it’s always for a good reason.
Make good, fulfilling choices.