Social media is not real life.
Social media does not tell the whole story.
Social media is not a substitute for real life human interaction.
I’ve noticed something disturbing over the past 2 years. It seems that more and more people are living their lives online and checking out of real life.
On social media, we can be anyone we want to be. We can be secure, confident, call ourselves leaders, and we can present the image of having it all together. Our followers will never know that we are plagued by low self-esteem, crippling insecurity, and feel as if our world is falling apart.
Social media has provided everyday people with platforms and an audience. What is key to remember is that most of this audience doesn’t know you. The real you. The ‘you’ that exists in real life and not the persona you’re presenting to the world.
Here are some questions to ask yourself if you feel you are living your life online:
You use social media as a distraction from your real problems
Social media has become a distraction for people to forget about the real problems in their lives and not address them. They can use that energy towards the latest outrage story on social media rather than using that energy towards actual problems in their lives.
I don’t think there is any better example than Election 2016.
People spent a great deal of time on social media arguing with each other about the election. I started to wonder if people were spending as much time on their families, personal development, finances, and health.
While there are real life consequences to the election and I am not minimizing the importance of what has just happened, I can’t help but think that a lot of the energy people spent arguing at one another on Facebook would have been better spent on focusing on their real life issues.
You use social media to feel like the person you WISH you were and have the life you WISH to have.
On social media, people can be anything that they want to be. They can be confident, secure, and pass themselves off as expert leaders.
Followers are none the wiser that these are all lies and the person has low self-esteem, crippling insecurity, and is simply parroting the last book they read.
This is one of the real dangers of living online — people can start to believe their own hype. They can start to believe the persona that they’ve created online is real. The ‘Likes’, ‘You’re so awesome’ and ‘You’re so amazing’ affirmations from people who are none the wiser to what’s really going on behind the scenes can lead to a false sense of security.
I’ve seen it happen time and time again. The person who brags about living the FABULOUS life and puts forth the artificially happy persona on social media either is found out to be a fraud or they confess that their persona is based on lies. (That’s another story for another day)
You have little interaction with people in real life but feel like you have a big community online.
I love this cartoon because it gives an honest snapshot of the truth. Facebook ‘Friends’ and social media connections are no substitutes for real life human interaction and connections.
I have an online business but I make it a point to talk to people over video conference so that I can see their faces and show them that they are interacting with a real life person.
Even though being online gives me access to help more people, I don’t want my entire business to be online because I like connecting with real human beings face to face. I go to workshops, seminars, conferences, etc because I like to meet new people.
Guess what? I’ve connected with many of them online first and then we meet and it’s awesome!
Humans thrive within a community but social media has given people a false sense of community and connection.
4000 Facebook Friends doesn’t mean much when you’re sitting in the dark eating cereal by yourself.
I am not opposed to connecting online. I’ve met lots of awesome people that way but it is no substitute for real life human interaction.
You look to social media for validation
Looking to social media for validation is a big clue that you’re living your life online.
If you need the ‘Likes’ the ‘You’re so awesome’ and ‘You’re so amazing’ from people who don’t really know YOU, then it’s time for some self-reflection.
Can I be blunt here? Validation is validation.
Whether it’s the constant selfies for likes or baring really intimate details about your life hoping for a reaction you’re looking for validation.
Is it good to be honest and transparent so that you can help others?
Yes, but I think there is a line.
When you’re looking to people for validation who don’t know the REAL YOU but only know the persona you’ve created on social media, then how much weight do their words of validation actually carry?
Rarely have I seen people be honest with someone who is baring very intimate details of their life. I get we want to be supportive and encouraging but sometimes people need the TRUTH. They don’t need the “You’re awesome, amazing, I don’t really know you but you seem so awesome.”
People need to hear painful truths sometimes and if you really care about someone public social media posts are not the place for that — just the same as I don’t think talk shows are the place to air dirty family laundry.
Stop living online and start living your life
Here are Tips to stop living online and start living your life —
- Set boundaries for what you do and do not post: Some aspects of your life need to be kept sacred and should be protected. By keeping some parts of your life private and not for public consumption, there is less of a temptation to live online.
- Ask yourself: ‘Why am I posting this? Am I looking for approval, validation, or affirmation?’ If the answer is yes, then why? Are you lonely? Bored? Feeling Insecure? It’s better to address those issues than looking to social media for temporary validation.
- Sign up for events with real people. The computer is great and I’ve made some great connections with people online but you still need to interact with real people. Sign up for workshops, seminars, or live events in subjects that you’re interested in. Being around people with the same interests is always so inspiring.
- Take a social media break: At least once every quarter, go off the grid for a few days — even if it’s a weekend. If the thought of going off of social media for a few days fills you with anxiety, then you may need to go cold turkey for a longer period. The longest that I ever deactivated from social media was about 6 months and it was awesome. It was a rough patch in my life and I’m glad that I did it because I was not distracted during that 6 months. I also wasn’t posting endless platitudes looking for validation. It was a great time of reflection and honesty. I was able to get to the root of a lot of issues and hear the TRUTH and not ‘You’re so awesome, amazing’ and whatever else from social media well-wishers.
I’ve heard it said that we are more connected than ever before and also more isolated and divided. I think much of this would change if we stopped living online in our echo chambers and got out and interacted with real-life human beings.