Hopefully you will find this short essay both humorous and honest, because I’m going to touch on a taboo subject here:
I say taboo, because no one likes being called out on their personal addictions. But let’s face it, we’re all junkies right? Actually, I used to be, “My name is Jonah and I am a recovering social network addict”.
We all have our excuses for why we sit on our social network of choice throughout the day: “I like to keep up with my close friends and family.” or “I only go on there when I’m bored.” or “I work a 9-5 with a computer, so its easy to go on ______________.” or …(insert excuse here).
But what is the real reason that we run to our phones to check a notification or sit on Facebook’s newsfeed hitting refresh or endlessly scrolling through our Twitter feed making it a point to share/comment on the minutiae of our day? We all know that instant gratification is a huge driving force, but going a couple levels deeper, we as human beings crave connection.
Take Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs for instance. Maslow was a psychologist that broke down the core motivation of human beings into five needs (in this order): Self-actualization, Esteem, Love/Belonging, Safety and Physiological. Just above those fundamental needs of security (safety) and health (physiological) is the need to love and be loved with a sense of belonging through intimate connections with those around us. And what better way than the instantaneous around-the-clock connection that “Social Network X” provides, right? Hmm, I’m not convinced. Let’s stop and think about that.
Do we really need “connection” 24-7 at various points throughout the day, every single day? Is that what truly fulfills our intrinsic desire as human beings to love, be loved and feel connected? And can we honestly say that our social network(s) truly fulfills those desires of needing and belonging?
I’d wager to say that most of you are shaking your head no right now, because the majority of “social” feeds aren’t really social. Instead, they’re filled with retweeted/reposted link bait articles on “34 ways to blahblahblahetc”. Or pseudo-intellectual quotes poorly Photoshopped onto some random image. Or selfies. Or videos of cats in boxes.
Is that really what connection is?
Okay, maybe cats in boxes are a real connection, because how can you not smile and have your day brightened by that? Humor, after all, is one of the universal ways to connect with other human beings.
So with that all said, maybe it’s time to stop being social?
And when I say stop, what I really mean is to limit your involvement. Not to inspire a scene of you passionately shaking your fists at the sky screaming, “Never again Facebook! Nevvverrrr!!!” as you click “Delete your account” claiming never to return to this foul thing ever again (you will, and that’s okay).
No, social networks are good, and they are useful, and they are real ways to connect with both your loved ones and possibly people that you may never have met in your lifetime otherwise. That’s been proven time and time again, especially throughout my own life. But, does one really need to be on social networks every single day, multiple times a day, day and night, week after week? Is that what will bring fulfillment and connection to ones life?
That’s not for me to answer. What do you think?