Continuing with the theme of social media being terrible, I’ve decided to take a look at how social media fosters our relationships. It’s got “social” right there in the name, so you’d think the whole idea would be that it increases our interactions among our friends and family.

And it certainly tries! We can access information of our colleagues and loved ones no matter where they are in the world. If I have a sister on the other side of the country, I can look at her page to see what she’s up to, I can look at the pictures she’s posted, or I can even leave her a message saying hi. It’s a brilliant revolution in communication that unfortunately we’ve managed to fuck up irreparably.

95% of the time we go on Facebook, it’s not to see what an individual person is doing, nor even to see what a small group of people are doing. We typically go on Facebook to go on Facebook. We now deal with our relationships in generalities, as social media is a wash of our compatriots, often hidden among unknown associates that we met at a party or something three years ago.

This makes the very act of being “social” impersonal. If I do go and visit my sister’s page, the word we’ve developed for checking up on a loved one is “stalking.”  Our relationships over social media have a voyeuristic quality to them, and whether rightly or wrongly, this makes us inherently uncomfortable with them.To view someone’s page has that very negative connotation that makes people uneasy connecting, even if it is in a relatively trivial manner, with the people they would consider their friends.

Therefore, most of us rely on updates from our Newsfeeds. If the information is fed to us passively, then it does not require the sympathetic connection that actively engaging with our loved ones otherwise would. Learning about our colleagues needs to be almost accidental, for fear of being a “creeper”.

If I see my sister’s photos, the unspoken agreement is that I was not actually seeking to learn about her life, but that this social relationship is built on the contingency of me happening to be online at the time, and chancing across her update.

Social media does not foster relationships, it deadens them. Yes the internet allows for great communication across vast distances, but the connections involved become contingent and meaningless. If you wish to stay in touch with friends and loved ones, you can use your phone as an actual phone, rather than rely on the empty exchanges of social media.

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