What has transpired over the last 4 or 5 months across the globe has been unlike anything most of us have ever experienced. We have been made to stay home, close our businesses, schools & churches for months at a time, hoard toilet paper and avoid social interaction. This has driven many people online to try and stay connected. While small businesses were severely damaged by the lockdowns, social media giants have only grown in influence and control.
In the months that we were locked away, we turned to our phones, tablets and smart TVs to keep us from growing crazy while social distancing. We scanned Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tik Tok and YouTube for entertainment and human interactions. COVID-19 did not stop us from being the social creatures that we were made to be, we just became limited in what we were allowed to do.
Social Media was created as a tool to enhance our everyday life. It is a compliment, not a substitute. It was developed to keep the world connected in ways that were not possible just 20 years. In the ideal world, you would experience life and then share those experiences with others who may be 100s and 1000s of kilometers away. It was a godsend for someone like me who moved to the other side of the world and left behind my friends and family. I have been able to stay connected with them for over 11 years now and we have been able to share in the experiences of each other’s lives.
We have always intuitively known that what we see on social media is not exactly like real life. But I believe what has happened over the last 4 months is a merger of ‘real life’ and social media. Social Media became such an important part of our day-to-day life and experiences, that (in our mind) it became our ‘real life’. We had so little interaction with the outside world that the online world grew to be all the more real.
It is the only way that I can explain what I have seen take place in our society since March. We seem to be talking past each other and saying things to one another, even people we consider friends, that we would never say in person. We appear to be seeing, or assuming, the worst in our fellow man.
This has been on my heart and mind for the last month.
We need to remind ourselves that this is not real life. The things that we see transpiring online across the world are not necessarily a reflection of your world, of your friends and neighbours. Remember the posts that you read on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are the result of someone who has not truly been in touch with their own community for quite some time. Next time you read a post, remind yourselves that the vast majority of people communicate better in person because we were created to speak to one another and see each other’s facial expressions and hear their voice inflections.
Now this doesn’t excuse ungodly or rude behaviour. We need to do endeavour to treat each other with kindness and understanding. We can all do better.
I just pray this post helps us to navigate what may be ahead of us over the next few months and that it reminds us to get outside (if you can) and experience our real world once again.