I’m a homebody. I’ve always been that way. I’m most content when I’m in my house drinking wine in front of my TV. That’s my happy place. Still, even at my most antisocial, I’m not immune to feeling alone at times. Of course, you can grab your phone, pull up an app and have all of your friends in the same place at once, but does that actually satisfy the part of you that craves a sense of community?
Now, an argument can be made both for and against social media, when it comes to its effect on modern-day human interaction. I think there is merit to both sides of that argument. We are always connected with each other, but the interactions that happen on social media usually lack the depth and intimacy that you would get in person.
I was reading an article by Emma M. Seppälä Ph.D., where she talked about what she calls the Loneliness Epidemic and how Americans in particular are struggling with this due to our belief that we are “independent, unique and autonomous”. We Americans tend to live in our own bubble. We are taught that we can be whatever we want and live however we want, as long as we work hard for it. We’re taught to be self-reliant, but we are also taught to see everything in relation to ourselves.
I don’t think there’s anything wrong with focusing on yourself and what you want. I think that only becomes problematic when we forget that, while we are all unique with our own set of experiences and talents, we are also very much the same. We forget that we can empathize with each other. We forget that we’re not alone in what we go through.
The shallow connections that we form on social media don’t allow us to really understand each other and find ourselves in each other. To be successful is to work hard and stay busy, but to be happy is to find people to share that success–and also those inevitable failures–with. Not people who see you as competition, but people who actually care about you and want to see you do well.
I’ve learned to find value in a handful of quality friends over a crowd of people who I’m not truly connected with. I’ve learned to appreciate those relationships that manage to survive the highs and lows of life, because they make you feel less alone. They make your tragedies feel less isolating and your celebrations that much more meaningful. They meet you where you are, and everyone needs that sometimes.