Have you ever thought about how depressing it can be to scroll through all of the perfectly depicted lives on Social Media? "Actually, I have thought about it," you say. Right? Well, I know I have had many frank conversations with friends about how it's perfectly normal to trip over dirty laundry, yell at your kids once in a while and wonder what's left in your bank account the last two days before pay day, even though we rarely see "real life" posts such as these. Instead, people are posting about the wonderful accomplishments of their children, the "date nights" with their spouses, photos of their beautiful meals, their paint night masterpiece, freshly manicured feet propped up on a balcony with a frosty beer in the frame and even a selfie or two with their furry friends. There's no harm in sharing happy things in a world full of political divisiveness, violence and suffering, is there? Is there?
Actually, there may be.
The problem lies in comparing our normal, complicated, beautiful lives (which are full of ups, downs, healthy financial times, days when we wonder how we will pay for our kid's yearbook, stressful conversations about complex friendships with our teen, a moment of bursting pride when our child finally *gets* Algebra) to the lives we see scrolling up our computer monitor. This imaginary wall we construct between ourselves and the perceived perfection of our friends (who, as perfect as they might look, are going through their own craptastic experiences) is only serving to get in the way of opportunities for the real human connections that form when we share the good and the bad moments of life with each other. Am I recommending sharing the intimate details of a deeply hurtful time in your marriage on Facebook? Of course not! What I am saying is that we really need to devote at least as much time as we spend on social media making significant, reciprocal and meaningful connections with people. Face to face.
In a study that you can find at http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/0146167297234003 , several scientists investigated how close people felt to one another during an experimental set of questions asked and answered between sets of strangers under a few different scenarios. What they found, in simple terms, (since I know not everyone appreciates scientific literature as much as I do) was that the people that shared personal, emotion inducing information about themselves with their partner felt, at the end of the experiment, as close or closer after about 45 minutes than their perceived closeness with people they had known and cared about for many years. The other conditions involved superficial conversations, which the scientists describe as small talk, and the scientists implying that the people would get along with their partner or even that they should have a goal to bond with their partner.
In short, it really makes us feel close to someone when we show a little vulnerability and they reciprocate with a personal story in their own life. My interpretation: People crave empathy far more than perfection.
Go forth and Click with someone!