(I’m going to be using the word “I” a lot here, but the subjects at hand may not directly apply to me personally. we’ll see).
Why do I strive so much to make a connection with people?
What does connection mean anyway? I’ve been thinking a lot about how we “connect” with people as a society. Last night I decided to delete my Facebook where I had close to 700 “friends” or “connections.” I decided to delete the page as a whole, because I made the assumption that removing individual people would take a deleting personally, (like I totally would. Oh my God, I hate it, but I know that you deleted me as a Facebook friend in 2012 because we had a crush on the same dude).
That is a complete and total assumption. I know that people have the choice to define their friendships. For me, many of my relationships take place online, because I split my time between Kentucky and Tennessee, and many of my friends have moved around since graduation of some sort. However, what is it that makes some people have the opposite opinion of virtual “friendships” like the ones formed on Facebook, not being classified as being “real” or “legitimate?” Why did I use quotation marks around the word “friend” when I gave someone an explanation for starting over on Facebook?
(This part is definitely about me).
In the single day that I’ve had my new Facebook, I’ve wondered about various people that I could recall out of my nearly 700 friend count, and if they would notice I had made a new profile. Would they wonder if I decided to single them out and choose not to “add” them as a friend? Can a simple notice be defined as a connection? I think about countless people on a daily basis, and think I have made enough of a connection to think about them. Many of these thoughts happen without any type of interaction. Obviously they have left an impression on me, so I personally define an impression as a connection.
There is also the whole sense of mutual interaction taking place in order to create a connection; when we’re applying this scenario to Facebook, we can define it as a “mutual friend” connection. The word “mutual” defines some sort of interaction or engagement; two people have clicked with the intention of sharing something, so therefore you’ve made a connection.
This particular viewpoint has sent me into a tailspin in the aftermath of getting rid of my previous Facebook profile. What does it mean to connect with someone in this day and age of social media explosion? I can send you links over Facebook messenger until I’ve tore my fingers off and my Facebook algorithm has been severely thrown off. Does that even matter unless the other person acknowledges the link? Our seemingly collective social reliance on “likes” and page views seem to think so. After years of social media use and reliance for my daily connection to the world, I am absolutely 100% dependent on the so called phenomena of “likes” and unfortunately see them as an indication that a connection has been made. You liked my selfie? Boom, we’re connected enough for me to tell you that there is a scar on my nose from when I almost broke it in 8th grade.
Since when has a number of “likes” on something become a defining factor of connection? Simply publishing or sharing something on social media is done for the purpose of wanting to make some type of impression. I have this blog because I want to write about my life experiences in order to make a connection with someone. My hope is to find some sort of mutual understanding. If you’ve gone through the same experience, I want to know about it! This notion is the honest reason as to why I am so bothered by my strong desire for mutual interaction. Why is acknowledgement via the internet so much better than a simple look or read? I don’t understand why the addition of the “like” button or the series of Facebook reaction emojis make social interaction so much more authentic, and why it seems to have such a strong presence in our relationships, whether they are virtual or in our reality.
Sometimes, we might not have a choice in our dependence on virtual connection. For two years, I was in a long distance relationship where our interactions were 75% virtual, and while it was difficult at times for me to not be able to physically touch my partner or to smell his neck that always smelled faintly of oranges, I never thought our relationship was any less authentic because our connections were almost exclusively virtual. I’m wondering if this is the reason why I feel so personal about virtual relationships or the idea of something shared. I’m probably still going to ask the question “what defines sharing” for awhile, but I’m just going to share this with all of you for now.