“The Innovation of Loneliness” A Commentary

I digress today from the question of, “Are People Worth It” A friend of mine shared a very interesting video on Facebook today which is worth going over.

The Innovation of Loneliness from Shimi Cohen on Vimeo.

In the video Shimi talks about the effect social media has on loneliness, or better yet how social media can increase our loneliness. He provides some very interesting points, and I would like to take some of them just a little further.
Shimi mentions that social media is used to choose how we are perceived. Since everything is not done in real time but can be edited and changed, it can create a gap between who we really are and how we are trying to be perceived. This has some merit. Those who do try and change how they are perceived are not living honestly and even if they feel connected are alone because they are not known. (I find the notion of living honestly as a requirement for friendship and intimacy as to basic to argue here). But I find that most people on social media are pretty good at typing stuff off the cuff without editing it and letting their true selves out.
The issue of social media communication lacking the real time constraint I believe is only part of the issue. Carefully to editing material can be the real us we are trying to be and thus a real aspect of who we are. If we take time to edit grammar and what we say carefully, that is part of our personality if done right. The bigger issue is relationship communication in time and space.
Real interactions happen in space. Conversations through social media do not. I am all for conversations. I love a good conversation and that is my primary way of relating with and loving others. However, social media conversations lack the physical side of relationships. We are physical beings and our bodies carry a great deal of the relational burden. Our bodies are supposed to respond alongside our minds. Text carries mostly a mental response.
When I say something to you I am intended to illicit a response from you and I have a goal in mind for communication. I want you to laugh, empathize, share the feelings of my experience etc. I expect to see you smile, laugh, squirm or cry. I can see, hear, and sometimes touch your response. If I type something, I can’t. I am solely reliant upon my imagination to imagine your physical response. Which history tells me most humans imaginations and understanding is often flawed.
When we simply type something, we get less experience with others humanness. Our physical bodies and reactions are very important, and not having that causes a gap in our relationality. So I end with a challenge. Next time you want to like something, call a friend and tell them what you think or why you like something. Next time you want to leave a quick comment, go hang out instead. Let me know what happens.

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