Tuesday, August 27, 2013

connection - intimacy = loneliness

During my three-month stint of unemployment, I spent a lot of time on social media. I would definitely say an unhealthy amount of time. It was my go-to boredom relief.

On top of that, I missed my friends and family, and sites like Facebook and Instagram let them literally sit at my kitchen table with me.

But instead of feeling closer to them, I felt only farther away. I looked at their pretty status updates, their pretty photos and their pretty blog posts, and I was reminded of how not-so-pretty my life is. I felt so lonely.

The other day I watched the video below on “The Innovation of Loneliness” and read this NPR article on a study about Facebook and sadness, and I wondered if I was trading “tweets” and “likes” and “hashtags” for the intimacy of real friendship.

We’re connected more than ever before, but our correspondence is as phony as the social media highlight reel we’ve created for ourselves.

Even this blog is a pretty picture of my life for me to hide behind. So let me be authentic for a moment. Here are three things I would never, ever post on Facebook:

#1 This is a picture of what I look like as I type up this blog post. I haven’t showered since my workout. My pores are larger than ever. No, I didn’t run through the sprinklers, that’s sweat on my shirt. And yes, I did strongly resist the urge to delete that photo and take another where I looked better.

#2 I’ve been outside my healthy weight range of 120-125 for the past week. I can’t figure out why my weight keeps climbing, but that hasn’t stopped me from drowning my sorrows in fresh baked cookies and chocolate ice cream.

#3 Except for my workouts, I spent the entire weekend on the couch reading, surfing the Internet and watching marathons of Lost while my husband studied for his test because I have no one else to hang out with in this city. And I am definitely not exaggerating when I say the entire weekend.

So how’s that for authenticity? Now, these short confessions definitely did not restore the intimacy in our relationship, but maybe it opened up the opportunity for that to happen.

Here’s my challenge for you. Do something offline this week to show a friend or family member how much he or she means to you. Make sure it’s real and authentic and personalized just for them. And then when you are done, don’t post, tweet or update about it on your social media accounts. This isn’t about showing the world what a great friend you are, it’s about working hard to be a great and genuine friend.

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