Is Social Media Ruining Genuine Friendship & Encouraging More Loneliness?
Actually, I think it is and isn’t, depending on the person and circumstances. Genuine friendships can be ruined by lies and gossip getting out of control on social media in ways that didn’t use to happen. By the time you have a chance to catch your breath, everyone and his brother have weighed in on your personal situation. It’s crazy! And it can make apologizing and one-on-one conversation nearly impossible after things have spiraled into the public or even semi-public arena. Sometimes it feels easier just to walk away from a friendship than to deal with an entire tree of Facebook harpies on top of the original problem.
On the other hand, some of us who have felt isolated and relatively friendless because of whatever reason have found communities of like oddballs online (or even one or two others who grok our special weirdness), and this has been such a blessing, for lack of a less loaded term. What a freaking relief after all these years to “meet,” even if only on a screen, another human who has experienced some of the same shitty things we have. Someone who gets our strange sense of humor. Someone who aligns with us politically. Who collects blue crystal spiders. Or believes life began on Neptune. Whatever! There’s someone somewhere who we can discuss this with, and odds are good it won’t be our next door neighbor or someone at work, but probably someone in another state or country.
With our one weird friend in our pocket, we can now go about our daily life faking normalcy without feeling so all alone.
But! Because we have the weird friend or two, and the ability to find more tailored friends online, it’s so seductive to ignore meatspace people who don’t get us, which is pretty much everyone. And since online friends tend to ghost or take breaks sans explanation, sometimes you’re left feeling even emptier than before.
Why Do People Bully Others?
Insecurity. Yep. This is textbook bullying, mostly by men who are “losers” according to cultural standards, but online they have the ability to hurt others, especially when they clump together in a bropod.
Avoid Own Problems. For sure. I think many of us Usenet “combat prose warriors” were in avoidance mode. I was. It was an escape from my home life, and I’m sure I wasn’t alone in that. We were all spending waaay too much time there to have healthy offline relationships.
Look Cool. Maybe. I guess in partisan politics anyone who bashes a Trump supporter looks cool to other Trump haters and the same goes for the other side, but I’m sick of it all.
For Fun. Absolutely. There’s this thing on Twitter called “hate-following.” Like if you hate Trump, you don’t block him or mute him, but instead you follow him and mock his tweets and anyone who supports him. He doesn’t read the comments or engage, so it just makes him appear to have more followers. Counterproductive! Also, why would anyone waste their time doing this? It must be fun!
Which Stigma/Taboo Is Worse?
Mental Health. Is this even a stigma? Seems like everyone is claiming to have a disorder nowadays from being “on the spectrum” to OCD (guilty) to whatever else.
Self Harm. This is sad and scary, but so many have fessed up to it that it doesn’t seem like a stigma either.
Suicidality. This is scary to me, such that I would constantly worry about being close friends with someone who had these thoughts, since I’d feel like I would need to be on high alert. Maybe that turns it into a taboo, if people are scared of it. But you have to be. How can you not be, if you care about someone?
Bullying. People who bully are assholes and should be shunned. This should be a taboo. It isn’t though. The POTUS is a bully and enjoys a solid chunk of support from his base. Same with other politicians and celebs. We secretly like them, don’t we? Maybe we’re genetically programmed to because we want a bully to protect us from the terrors outside the cave. Even those of us who can’t stand Trump want someone tough and mean enough to beat him, don’t we? Cuz if we choose Molly Milquetoast, she will lose.
Do You NEED People In Your Life? How Many People Do You Meet With & Talk
1-3 per Day
4-9 Per Day
10-17 Per Day
18+ Per Day
I laugh at those numbers, especially the last one. 😂😂😂 Mine is zero, as in none. Depending on the day, I have 1-3 coworkers I talk to, but I don’t think that counts, since it’s work-related. Maybe twice a month I attend a social event with around a dozen people. I see my daughter and her husband and baby once a month. I try to have one weekend day every weekend where I don’t leave my apartment at all, and one weekend a month that’s completely for me/no events or plans with others.
That said, I don’t feel alone. There are people I talk with almost daily; I just don’t see them in person. This doesn’t bother me at all. I try to imagine if I would be happier seeing more people and the answer is no, always. The opportunities are there if I want them. I used to think I needed to explain why I am this way, but I don’t. Nor do people who like to go to parties and interact with others frequently need to explain. It’s simply how we’re hardwired.