Social Media – Real Connections or Just Clicking “Like”?

I read an article a friend of mine shared on Facebook. It talked about how my generation is almost an in-between generation where we grew up without technology but were present for the dawn of a many technological advances. We were here at the forefront of online dating and smart phones. We watched the slow death of the “landline” and gritted our teeth through dial-up. Fully equipped to embrace the technology we did, but with the values of our parents and grandparents.

I believe we are this kind of in-between generation. Often I find that technology frustrates me. Yes, I am an IT gal and I did sign up for MySpace when it first came out. I’ve tried all the “new stuff” as it applied to me. I had an old cell flip phone and I have all sorts of fun devices even now. However, I feel like more and more people rely on these devices for the simple things that we could accomplish quicker in person. The nuances in tone or facial expressions are not conveyed in text (yes not even with emoji’s). The basics in communication has become indifferent and impersonal.

I couldn’t imagine cyber bullying or even taking it totally seriously. When I encountered an issue with something like this I just blocked all the parties, reported it to facebook, laughed at them for having no life, and moved on. However, kids these days take their social media lives so seriously. Often I feel like social media is just about who can attract the most attention, get the most views, etc. Everyone is just advertising for themselves and not always in ways that make them look good. Sometimes I feel like people will post whatever it takes to get that like or comment and it’s sad. What is it really teaching our kids?

So I bring to my social media a small town girl with old school values. I want to reach out to you and I want to hang my veggies on your social media inbox once in a while just like neighbors did back in the day. My veggies, might just be a “hi” or a motivational thing I found online to share just to you, but I’m going to try to connect personally in positive way. The world is smaller with this new technology and getting increasingly impersonal and I refuse to succumb to that.

Sometimes making real connections is painful. A few years ago, I met someone and became friends with them on Facebook because we had several things in common. We lived a few hours away and always planned to meet up for coffee when I travel through, but life always seemed to interfere. One day, she was brutally murdered in a domestic violence situation. A Facebook group we both belonged to rose up to help bring some support. My family and I even went to her funeral and people from the facebook group traveled all the way here to run in an event for her family. All we had done is connect on social media, but it was more than clicking some likes. We shared experiences, our days and became friends. Since then I’ve lost several other social media friends to disease and sadly other domestic violence related situations.

Yes we are all selling ourselves in some way, especially on LinkedIn if you’re looking for a new job or prospect. However, there’s a bigger picture to look at. It’s more than just the number of friends or “connections” we have, what is the quality of each of those connections? I want to find the real social in social media. I don’t want to get into the habit of disconnectedly clicking like or commenting. I’m going to be who I am even out here in the big world of Social Media. I’m going to be that small town Yooper gal in the big city Social Media world bringing my old school game. How about you?

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