I’ve been a really big fan of Ze Frank’s projects and most recent video blog A Show, and one of his most recent posts really brought to the forefront of my mind some of the unintended consequences that are caused by our ability to use social media tools to connect to one another in a digital space. It’s a subtle shift, a rewiring that I’m starting to be much more conscious of, and one that I think a great many people are affected by. Stop reading this and watch the video above for some context.
At a fundamental level, all of us want to feel connected to other people, to learn, grow and share experiences. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram allow us broadcast our (filtered) experiences to hundreds or even thousands of people with the click of a mouse or the push of a button and those experiences are organized and cataloged for all to see. As Zucks said of Facebook Timeline – it’s a running documentation of your life. True, but its admittedly a filtered and curated documentation of your life. An edited version. The cliff notes really.
But that edited version of you also can have a downside. We’ve been busy filling up our newsfeeds with friends, colleagues, and acquaintances, inviting them to share our (digital) experiences, to comment, critique, ‘Like’ – Validate. With this exponential increase in connection comes with a cost of an increase in comparison. It’s never been easier to look up old roommates, classmates, girlfriends, boyfriends, and compare lives, or compare successes and failures. It’s this kind of keeping score via constant access to what is really a filtered, incomplete personal narrative that can’t be healthy.
[quote align=”center” color=”#999999″]Comparison is the thief of joy – Theodore Roosevelt[/quote]As Ze admits, that search for The Sweetness, especially when so much weight is put into those digital connections and portraits of people, can have a very real impact on his/our ability to appreciate real connections and real relationships, and maybe our ability to feel content.
Let’s face it – there’s a small ping of pleasure or validation that we feel, that I’m guilty of feeling when people click on that ‘Like’ button – when people take the time to comment on a project or a story I’ve built or shared. What I think we all need to a bit more conscious of is how much weight we put on those connections. Not that it’s doesn’t matter at all. Look at the expressions people make when their spending time in a public place using their phones. Laughter, exasperation, there are some very real connections happening in our personal, digital space. But that’s not the only way we should measure connection.
What’s the answer? I don’t know. The Sweetness Ze talks about is very much alive and well (if not actually real) allowing us to window shop, affirm, criticize and question decisions of each other and compare our divergent paths in real time. Maybe the answer it to simply be more aware, or to unplug from time to time, or to work as hard at fostering contentment as we do with connecting and comparing. What do you think? Are all these connections causing us to lose connection? Leave a comment – oh and if you enjoyed this post, be sure to click ‘Like’ ; )