I don’t mean to sound like a baby boomer hating on millennials when I am actually a millennial myself (though I often don’t relate to the younger end of that spectrum), but, I think social media might be turning us into garbage humans. Just a little bit. Absolutely any and every personality or behavioral flaw you have—social media almost makes it so you can just stop working on it. You get to curate everything about your image online. Every time you “interact” with the world on there, tons of behind-the-scenes thoughts, editing, re-writing, re-drafting, and calculating was done. Nothing is raw. Almost nothing is authentic. Who cares if I suck in-person if I’m great online, right? That’s what it seems like. In fact, I know of a lot of people who are, to be honest, pretty crappy humans, but appear so tremendous online.
We also interact differently online, using “Likes”, memes, GIPHS, and emojis to communicate and express ourselves. Sometimes, I stop and realize that I think I know someone—like really have a full idea of their personality—all because of the rare and short comments they’ve made on some of my posts, and their go-to emojis. I’ve already created this entire person in my head, just based on that. Something tells me I don’t actually have any idea what that person would be like in real life.
The anonymity and the praise for keeping things brief, keeping things funny, or always being the person who is controversial or always being the person who is posting uplifting memes is really making us all dwindle each other down to these slivers of ourselves. And, maybe we like that. It’s easier than having to be a dynamic, complex, ever-evolving human in real life who braves showing flaws through human interaction. But, really, is being good at social media making us bad people in these ways?
General social IQ
I wonder if the art of reading the room, and generally picking up on what others are feeling, is dying off. My friend’s sibling is an influencer on Instagram who is often praised for being “so relatable” online. And, I gotta tell you, I cannot stand in-person interactions with this woman. She never picks up on tone, or subliminal messages, or really any of those more subtle exchanges. We don’t really need to learn how to read the room on social media. We post in a vacuum.