Social Loneliness

According to my social media reach, my popularity and friendships are extensive…I couldn’t begin to tell you just how many “friends” or “followers” I have on all the various platforms I visit daily. This is rather unfortunate and somewhat meaningless to my actual social reality. Running a business has prompted the unfortunate necessity for an online presence to some degree. It seems that in order to build a business or attract new clients, your SEO has to be on point, you need daily or hourly updates on every platform, updated Google listings, Linked-In profile rocking, crushing the InstaStory, MySpace and GeoCities page and tweeting like a boss…

Yet as ‘connected’ as I am (and as we all are), the less it seems we understand how to work as humans. Speaking for myself, I can’t shake the feeling of loneliness that I feel when I’ve sat in Starbucks, updating every profile, creating new promo for the clinic, posting pictures, blogs, ads, and when I lift my head from my screen…I’m alone. Apparently after nine at night is not a popular time for coffee?!? Yet even on a busy weekend with a line up out the door at the local caffeinated establishment, I will still feel that same loneliness. In a crowded place, I feel alone, vulnerable and intimidated.

I’ve reached out to hundreds of online people who visit me on Instagram or Facebook, but I’m sitting alone…and the juxtaposition is sometimes a little depressing.

I’ll be the first to admit that there is a small sense of excitement, or relief when there is some sort of acknowledgement with something that I post. Whether it’s just one person who “likes” a picture or blog post… and the more I think about it, the more I realize that this attitude can’t be healthy. I understand the difficulty that results from putting any of our worth in the hands of those on the other side of a screen, especially when we likely don’t have an actual relationship of any sort with 3/4 of our friend list on the ol Facebook. The danger is to become a false representation of ourselves; an unrealistic version of who we truly are. When we reveal the true side of our daily grind and struggle, we face the reality that we have placed so much worth in the thoughts and response of others on social media that our identity and self worth become compromised.

I’m an individual who thrives on connection with others. Coffee and Conversation is extremely fulfilling…and not necessarily a deep, theological, philosophical or spiritual conversation…just the chance to be in relationship and take time. Time to be genuine, attentive and engaged in someone else. Time to put the screen away and connect with a person. This, to me, is beautiful, powerful and meaningful. I’m never going to solve the worlds problems, but just to share time with someone is priceless.

I was extremely fortunate tonight to meet up with an old friend from High School, who I haven’t seen in almost twenty (yes twenty) years. And I’ll admit that it was all thanks to social media that we connected again. We live and work in the same city that we grew up in, and yet we haven’t connected until now. So there certainly is a place for the social media machine. However, it was all due to the desire to truly connect with someone, and this I appreciate. I have been guilty on too many occasions of not following through on the actual human connection of an invitation to meet up for coffee or drinks with someone. And although the intention is genuine, the action is missing. So to my friend I met with tonight…Thank You for your intention and your willingness to sit and talk. It truly meant a lot and I do hope we do it again soon!

We have become a society that is so connected, yet so incredibly disconnected from one another. I hope to be able to bring back the human element of connectivity to my life. To not allow the surface connection of social media to effect my self worth. I do believe that the social media connection is a part of our society now and should certainly be embraced and used to connect, however, for me, it will truly never replace the human interaction.

Much like last week, I think I’ll challenge us all to do this… meet with someone, put the phone away, and have a coffee (or tea) and genuine conversation. It’s a beautiful thing! Break the loneliness we feel in the crowded places. If you feel alone in the crowd, please know you are not the only one… 7058682616 text if you need someone to share some time with over a coffee.

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