Does Social Media Make You Antisocial?

Have you ever had a conversation with someone who was completely distracted by her cell phone? Hmmm … maybe it’s an emergency. Then you come to find out she was just checking her friends’ posts or tweets. What is the point of that? The friend is right there. It’s you, right now, in all your beautiful physical glory! In the days of social media and online news, many of us have become addicted. And why not? It seems much easier to be anything we want to be when typing it behind a keyboard. “Life is fabulous! Today, I’m going to ... ”

“Another awesome day at work. Success is sweet!”

“Someone just stopped me to tell me how beautiful I look … again (sigh).” Whether we’re a goddess with long legs on eHarmony, a successful entrepreneur on Facebook, or an expert critic in the comments section, it’s easy (maybe too easy) to say whatever you want and be whomever you please behind a screen. We can even be our cyber-selves at all times. You always hear the jokes: “I’m not lonely. I have over 500 Facebook friends.” Well, it may not be such a joke anymore. The internet never sleeps. So I can’t help but wonder about this cheap substitute for the real thing when we become too comfortable with online interactions. I’m definitely guilty. I started to realize my discomfort in new, physical surroundings after attending YogaFest 2013, an event filled with classes, music, and shopping. At the end of a class, the instructor asked us to sit on one another’s mats and join hands. It was clearly uncomfortable for myself and everyone else in the room. We awkwardly held hands, but that was just the beginning. She then requested we catch someone’s eye in the room and hold the stare for three seconds … five times. We uneasily caught one another’s eyes and offered an uncomfortable smile. When this exercise was done, I felt empowered. It was something new, and I didn’t take any shortcuts. That’s right! I didn’t hold anyone’s glare for a measly one to two seconds. It was a solid three, and you better believe I was still holding hands with the other two yogis beside me. Despite the initial discomfort during the process, it was a new feeling of human connection — with a perfect stranger. And that’s just not something many of us are used to anymore. Usually, if someone stares at us, we wonder or even say, “What are you staring at?” (Or is that just me?)

If a stranger were to just randomly hold our hand for support, there's a better chance we might pull it back rather than squeeze back.

Easy online connections, which lack any risks, real feelings, or anxiety, have led to a certain caution when opening up to new, physical relationships.

As a result, I can’t help but observe uncomfortable people in new surroundings as they hop on their phone toward the familiar world of Facebook/Twitter/Flipboard/Instagram.

I’m sure these are perfectly nice people, but nothing says, “Go away. I’m busy,” more than an interactive cell phone user. So doesn’t too much social media just increase antisocial behavior?

When was the last time you had a warm conversation with a perfect stranger? Or, when was the last time you actually said something negative to a complete stranger in real life? The answer to both is probably, "not a lot," yet both these actions are completely the norm in our cyber-world. It's not a world, or even an alternative, for genuine contact.

So in the spirit of human relationships, I’d love to get to know you guys. But please hold the negativity. If I wanted that, I’d go online ... oh, wait … hmmmm ...

Regardless, let’s spark up a conversation. Imagine how wonderful you'll feel day after reaching out to old friends and embracing new ones.

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