“Our impulse to broadcast our lives
makes us miss out on them.”
-Emma M. Seppälä Ph.D.
“…face-to-face communication, particularly dialog, has special neural features that other types of communication do not have and the neural synchronization between partners may underlie successful face-to-face communication.”
Recently, I made a decision to curtail my use of social media based on a challenge from a professor whose course in which I had enrolled. I had hundreds of “friends” but when really considering the depth of our relationships, it wasn’t the same feeling as when I engaged in person. Studies show the more time you spend on social media, the unhappier you are. Is life better without the interruption of Facebook, Twitter and the other apps on my phone? I decided to see for myself.
Remember when we spent more time connecting with cherished friends in person–when we had to hear the latest news face-to-face? The civil graces of connecting with one another in real life have been replaced by a virtual world…as if we are all on a stage sharing what we want to share…showing up only half-way because we can choose to keep out those things that we wish. Psychologists are starting to challenge the effects of social media–the subtle eye contact that happens between parent and child that is so critical to mind development, the gift of being truly present to the person you are sitting alongside instead of constantly glancing at the phone, and going to places and really savoring the experience instead of getting caught up in the “selfie” you need to take. We achieve more in meetings when we can connect face-to-face because communication is found in the nuances of gesture, reaction, and body-language that is lost otherwise. On a more challenging level, the words we use with one another when we sit behind a keyboard would seldom cross the lips while sitting face-to-face. Unplugging can be truly liberating.
While some friends have been offended by my recent change, friendship starts in a million connections beyond the social media stage. Social media has been such a gift in some ways–my husband and I initially connected with each other that way, but it was the eye-to-eye, face-to-face, the arm-in-arm presence that has truly enriched our relationship for the long haul. There are also things I still have to engage in for my job and to advertise events, but waking up to read a good book or to look outside definitely feels like a better way to begin my day than grabbing my phone. It is a balancing act, but because of the power it evokes and the thrill of getting that “like,” we have to make sure we are taking the time to unwind from the web. Though personal connection takes more time and sometimes money to do so, consider the rewards of a happier life. Reconnecting in ways that are familiar bring us back to each other and can create a truly amazing life.