“Social media…great for developing community, but true belonging, real connection and real empathy requires meeting real people in a real space in a real time.” – Brené Brown
A couple of weeks ago, I stood with hundreds of women and sang a song about seasons. It spoke to me poetically and prophetically and tears of joy streamed down my face. I turned to my friend and hugged her. She grinned back at me and said, ‘I know.’
The story behind those words spans a few years. We’ve journeyed together and my friend understood my tears and I understood her grin. It was a personal, but also a collective spiritual moment. It was a moment of meaningful connection that can’t be replicated on Facebook.
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Brené Brown writes about collective assembly, collective grief, and collective joy. She says human connection is necessary and face-to-face interaction is primary. I love social media, but I’m becoming more and more dissatisfied with distance and want more real-time interactions. I want to interact with real people, not avatars.
The tension is that real time, real space interactions are costly in time and effort, but real interactions are what make the difference.
Brené writes about how we need to show up for collective moments of joy and pain so we can actually ‘bear witness to inextricable human connection’.
Are We Really Connecting?
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On a personal face-to-face level, have we lost something in this media age? Too often, we feel like we keep up with people on Facebook and know what’s going on in their lives. But what we see is a highlight reel, a curated snapshot, a persona.
We can make our lives on Facebook and Instagram seem exciting to others, but what they don’t see are the in-between parts. The parts that are boring, painful, fearful, the failures, the ugly parts, the unattractive pictures. Instead, we post the things that make our lives look fantastic… even when it’s far from it.
For the first time in years, I’m excited about going to church. This is my primary collective assembly opportunity. I also belong to the Inspire Collective and have connections with hundreds of creative women. Attending a women’s conference with a friend next year will be another opportunity for collective assembly.
We have created a space in our home for guests and we have overseas friends coming to visit. I make time to travel interstate to be with my daughter and friends.
Showing up for each other in times of grief, in protest, in shared social experiences, in worship is where real interaction occurs. Spending too much time on social media may make us feel connected, but at the end of the day, it’s not enough.
In 2018, my intention is to spend less time scrolling and more time showing up. In 2018, I’ll hold hands with loved ones and strangers.
Article supplied with thanks to Elaine Fraser. Elaine is from Perth in Western Australia and is a teacher, mentor and author.