Yes, at least that is the easy answer. If it’s social media that takes the blame, we remove individual responsibility.
I can tell you that it’s not ruining our connections. If it did anything, it made them better.
Around you is a small circle of friends. All of those friends have different interests based on how they were raised. These interests aren’t aligned with yours but you’ve known each other for so long.
That was before social media.
Now your circle of friends is exactly what you make it. You now have the opportunity to take any of your interests and find people with similar ideas. Today, you have the opportunity to find YOUR people.
Emotional bank account
Before the internet, we had the telephone.
Before the telephone, we wrote letters.
Only the arena has changed and it will change again.
Building relationships is a skill and like money, no one taught us how to manage them.
Relationships are built through your ability to connect.
We all have the ability to connect with someone but the strength of that connection depends on your trust. Without trust, the relationship has no foundation to grow.
It takes time but it is easy to build trust, the problem is that you can also lose trust. You can lose it much easier than it took you to earn it, just like money.
Dr. Stephen Covey discusses tips on building an Emotional Bank account that we all have in ‘The 7 habits of highly effective people.”
“If I make deposits into an Emotional Bank Account with you through courtesy, kindness, honesty, and keeping my commitments to you, I build up a reserve. Your trust toward me becomes higher, and I can call upon that trust many times if I need to. I can even make mistakes and that trust level, that emotional reserve, will compensate for it. My communication may not be clear, but you’ll get my meaning anyway. You won’t make me “an offender for a word.” When the trust account is high, communication is easy, instant, and effective.”
On the other hand he explains.
“But if I have a habit of showing discourtesy, disrespect, cutting you off, overreacting, ignoring you, becoming arbitrary, betraying your trust, threatening you, or playing little tin god in your life, eventually my Emotional Bank Account is overdrawn. The trust level gets very low. Then what flexibility do I have?”
You have the ability to foster and destroy your relationships. If you think about how your actions are affecting someone’s emotional bank account, they might change.
Expectations can destroy your emotional bank account. Especially unrealistic expectations. These are considered unrealistic because they’re not communicated.
We often see our closer relationships as something apart of us, instead of a separate person.
We say things like, “They should know what I want. If they really loved me.”
With no expectations, my relationships online and offline have been pure. I’ve been able to selflessly connect with people.
The online world is no different.
Too much of anything can be problematic.
Consuming too much salt, raises your blood pressure. High blood pressure puts stress on organs in your body.
Working out with no rest causes strain on your joints and muscles. Which can increase your likelihood of injury.
It’s a problem when we become addicted to what social media gives us. When our dopamine levels are based on the number of likes instead of our own definition of happiness.
This problem is no different than the excessive fast food that we eat. It’s no different than a drinking problem or an inability to quit a bad habit.
It’s not the tool that’s bad, it’s how we use it.
Most people won’t tell you that moderate drinking (1-2) beers can help promote bone density.
You can read the results here. The study considered it for treating osteoporosis.
Because when something’s bad or negative, we seem to correlate the whole together. So when Social media affects those without self-control, we see it as a danger to all.
Seth Godin discussed digital peer pressure in a blog article. Pressure can break things but it can also create diamonds. There is duality in everything.
The real problem
It’s not social media, and it’s not ruining our lives.
The biggest problem is technology and how fast it has evolved. It’s evolved so fast that no one has taught us how to use something as simple as a cell phone.
Becoming addicted to technology is a problem. This is coming from someone who stayed up for three days to grind out Halo 3.
I slept for a whole day after that.
Technology has been doing this for years.
For instance, I always walk to the gym. I love walking because it helps me think. My neighbor who goes to the same gym, pulled up to the gym shortly after I arrived. The gym is less than two blocks away but he insists on driving. Cars were a new technology.
Walking is healthy, whereas ‘about 90 people die each day from car accidents.’
This number has significantly reduced. Cars are still considered weapons, and mishandling one could earn you some serious charges.
Learn to use technology as a tool. This seems simple but let’s start with your phone. How many of you have stared at your phone, waiting for a text back? How many times have you checked your most recent post, just to find out there was no change?
This is a problem, it’s almost like the technology calls to us.
The best practice is to turn off your notifications. Set a time specifically for social media, dedicated time is more productive than free time.
You need to take back the control that technology exercises over you.
“But I need my notifications on, what if there’s an emergency?”
The story we tell ourselves over and over is the one that sticks.
There’s an old saying, “If you don’t have time to meditate for an hour everyday, you should meditate for two hours.”
It’s easy to get caught up in the stories we tell ourselves. What did people do before cell phones?
They used landlines, that’s right. What if one isn’t available?
Then turn off all your notifications except for your phone call.
Remind everyone to call if there is an emergency.
Your cell phone is actually causing you to miss most of your life. The need to respond to people who aren’t in your physical presence is taking you away from the present.
It’s your call whether you want to take action or not. But decide what kind of life you want first.
The problem isn’t social media, it’s that we’ve traded the present for technology.