Words and illustrations by: Andrea Sangco
The way we socialize and expand our circle of friends are constantly changing as internet technologies continue to see shifts and innovations in endless ways to make it more convenient for us to hone relationships, meet new people, and communicate virtually. How we establish our identities online in various social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram demand us to manage the impressions we make online through activities such as post sharing, posting of photos, and status updates. It eventually gets addicting especially when feedbacks in the form of reactions, comments, and number of shares help make us feel seen, validated.
It may be an old debate, but social media does have the potential to make us feel more lonely even when we have an entire community of digital natives we can interact with through quick taps of our fingers. It can affect our overall mindset, our mental health, our self-esteem, and even our relationships. Social media has the potential to make us feel all sorts of loneliness and invalidation when we compare our realities to others’ curated life events that garner lots of reactions and positive comments online.
We should keep in mind, though, the algorithms lying beneath social media platforms we use all depend on our own online activities. We tend to choose the people we connect with based on shared opinions and interests which filters us from other people with different belief systems. Content is prioritized and targeted based on people’s interests.
If we continue to equate our authenticity to our social media presence or find validation through the number of reactions and feedbacks we receive in online platforms, social media will surely make us feel unappreciated and lonely. If we allow ourselves to hold back and filter everything that genuinely makes us happy, we are already not using social media in a rightful way. We should always balance the grasp we have of our realities and how social media invades them.
However, this may not be the case for everyone. Sometimes people feel like they belong more when on social media platforms. After all, communities based on shared interests is another opportunity for us to interact and connect with people who share the same experiences we have. Meme sharing surprisingly even establishes connection through humor among users of all types. In this light, social media has also become a tool to make people feel that they are not alone in their battles.
Social media can only be negative when it’s abused and used for the wrong reasons. And if you feel that sometimes you are not using it for the right reasons, it wouldn’t hurt to take a short break from the online world and focus on the real one, without having to worry about pleasing everyone online.