Among the many disappointments stemming from the last 8 months of the pandemic, the term “social distance” is one of them, at least for me.
Of course we have to stay physically distant. But as a result of that rule, we need to be ‘social’ more than ever, and I don’t mean online.
In fact social media might be the one thing worth social-distancing from these days!
I teach improv workshops that focus on getting people out of their comfort zones, so they can thrive in whatever they do. I coach people to be genuinely confident, instead of trying to be who they think someone else wants them to be.
There’s a liberation in learning how to be comfortable being more vulnerable. And the payoff for practicing this vulnerability is that you get comfortable actually being yourself. In the world of improv, you cannot filter anything the way you can on your social media feeds.
The problem with social media, as I see it, is that we’re not sharing how vulnerable we all are. We are, in many cases, hiding our vulnerability.
I’m not taking this position because I had an “Aha!” moment after watching The Social Dilemma (a documentary that explores the dangerous human impact of social networking) or because I don’t see any value in social media. I’m well aware that I could reach a larger audience for my business if I engaged more frequently on social media. I’ve grown my business through good old-fashioned word-of-mouth because when you teach real human connection for a living, it’s hard to embrace a medium that can be superficial.
Social media apps are a great way to share news and stay in touch with the friends and family we can’t see, but for many people, especially those who live alone, social media has become a replacement for true connection. We may feel connected, but if we haven’t actually seen or spoken to friends or family for a while, this feeling of connection is an illusion, like so many other things online.
People are now more isolated than before the pandemic, and sadly the most active social media users are typically the ones who are more susceptible to mental health issues like depression and anxiety. I don’t know which comes first — the chicken or the egg — but I do know that a conversation, a workout, or a drink on FaceTime will lead to a more fulfilling interaction than one that plays out in the comments section of a social media post.
Some argue that they’re online all the time to bring more ‘positivity’ to their newsfeed, but I challenge them to think about what they’re doing to bring more positivity to their actual lives, separate from social media activities.
I get it; it takes effort to actually interact with real, three-dimensional humans. Particularly as winter approaches. It’s easy to get lazy, but if you’re willing to be creative you can even meet a friend for dinner. Pick up a take-out meal or meet at a drive-thru and eat in your (warm) respective cars, like cops sharing a conversation over coffee.
Breaking bread together, while staying at a safe distance, will fill your belly and your soul.
So try logging off the apps and make time for genuine social experiences. You just might find your bliss.