By Diana Glebova
Our whole lives can be displayed on the internet. Pictures of our latest vacations are plastered on instagram; our snap stories show our nights out on the town and our culinary concoctions. We are a click away from a thousand of our friends at all times, and we can even pretend to be in the same room as our friends halfway around the world through video chat.
But social media may be a counteractive player in our socialization. We are having more conversations than ever before, but a large amount of them are virtual. We find ourselves wanting to capture every beautiful and exciting moment in our lives, from concerts to parties, to show the rest of the world what we’re up to. Is this life online leading to a disconnect from the real world? Despite this web of connections, why is this era characterized as the most lonely generation? Why, in a room full of people, can we still feel so completely alone? Conversing with students on campus, makes it evident that the dread of loneliness is present in a lot of our lives, and it can be hard to find a solution.
There is a definite pressure to be connected. At Sciences Po, Facebook is the primary source of updates from associations and events. Many of us always have a tab open to stay in the loop. Of course this has its advantages: you can contact the whole student body in a single click. But when, if ever does the constant feeling to stay connected become a problem? Is this feeling of being connected to everyone on campus in turn contributing to our feeling of isolation?
For some, the insistence of having a plethora of friends, and to be connected to everyone, does become a problem. Some want to know everyone, and for everyone to know them. This certainly is impossible. There is no plausible way of having close, meaningful relationships with over one thousand people on campus. Instead, we should focus on having a few close friends, ones that we can share our insecurities with. Those relationships make us feel the most secure and fulfilled, because there is no lonelier feeling than having a thousand friends but no one to talk to.
The pressure to be a social butterfly is exasperated through social media. The bombardment of events makes us feel as if we are missing out on the world if we don’t go – that a Friday night spent alone is the definition of social failure. Why? Perhaps because society stresses the importance of being an extrovert, or perhaps our failure to be social with everyone else casts us as an outsider. We have to remember that we shouldn’t care about social pressures and that a night spent reading a book or relaxing can be more fulfilling than dancing in a club. If we constantly try to adhere to social confines we will ultimately feel lonely, because we are not following our own desires.
The influence of social media is also seen in our most intimate relationships. If we compare the family structure a few decades ago to post internet, it is evident that the family has become less anchored. For some, holidays with the family are now typified by everyone sitting on their phones. This is also seen in many social situations, like public transportation and restaurants. Does this avoidance of real world conversations contribute to our loneliness? One might argue that no, this is not an avoidance of conversation, but rather we are conversing with people who we actually want to talk to, instead of being forced to talk to our extended family or strangers. But, where do we draw the line?
Notwithstanding one’s opinion on social media, it holds a definite influence over our lives. It paints an image of what we should be: extroverts with a dozen plans on a Saturday night. It undoubtedly distracts us from having closer relations to those in our immediate circle, and perhaps even to meeting strangers on the metro. The continuing absence of real life conversation will ultimately hinder our skills to interpret body language and emotions of those around us, and we will come even more isolated from the outer world. Social media has to take a backburner to in person encounters, if we want humanity to remain dependent upon our intimate relationships to our closest friends and family, and to feel less lonely in a room of a thousand people.
Diana Glebova is a first year student at Sciences Po Campus of Reims. Born in Donetsk, Ukraine; growing up in the land of 10,000 lakes and six month winters: Minneapolis, Minnesota. Has a passion for long runs, poetry, and pot luck dinners. The Grapevine runs once a month.