With the invention of social media we have more community than ever. We are consistently connected to far more people and “interact” far more often. In the few seconds I have between classes I can keep tabs on my nephew in Ohio as well as the girl I met in Croatia. I’m one of the first graduating classes to know what most of my classmates are up to despite the fact that I’ve never attended a reunion. But is that community? Does watching someone’s highlight reel create, sustain, or deepen a connection? Does social media make us feel connected to each other, or more like we have to prove ourselves to each other with the next best post? When I posted my 30 days without alcohol blog I was not prepared for the overwhelming out pouring of support and love for the piece. I had several people reach out to me via text, social media comments, and private messages to thank me for writing such an authentic piece. I was shocked. Being raw and real through the platform of social media sparked a reason to connect. It was one of the few times I have felt a genuine connection through social media. People were opening up to me, they were sharing similar experiences, and they were feeling inspired to challenge themselves. The connection of social media was creating a genuine jumping off point to create deeper relationships in real life.
We need more of that; I want more of that. We need to see the raw and the real, the highs and lows. I’m careful to say that as I’m not referring to “dumping”. I am not talking about the posts that are written rashly out of high emotion that seem to be begging for attention. I mean posts that invite others in to elicit understanding. Posts that are thoughtfully written to share an experience. Posts that are vulnerable and give others insight to different perspectives. Thats how we grow together; that’s how we grow as people.
I recognize that social media platforms aren’t necessarily designed for lengthy well planned pieces. It caters more effectively to the quick check in. It’s also not always the safest place to share your lows, or even your highs. However, I think we could all do our part in creating a better balance of what is shared. A balance that elicits authenticity – a refreshing perspective that reminds scrollers that behind the screen we are all simply human. The raw and real posts give us validation. Its a settling, deep breath of comfort that we are where we should be. Social media can present this constant underlying anxiety that we aren’t enough or won’t be enough – or that others are so much farther in front of us that we won’t ever catch up. These authentic posts calm those fears, they validate where we are all; they confront the highlight reel perspective head on. Social media is what you interpret it as, but if we were all just a little more authentic it could relieve the unconscious pressure of living up to our social media presence or someone else’s.
When I started this blog I didn’t have the intention of publishing it. It was simply going to be a place for me to keep all my pieces in a well organized manner. I also considered publishing it without sharing it through my social media – so the chances of someone I know reading it would be slim. I thought about writing it under a pseudonym so my identity would never be revealed. But now I’m committed. I’m craving more of those connections; I love deepening the relationships I have around me. For me, this is what makes life worth living; creating a community to experience life with.