Ok so we've all heard it a million times, connecting with people via social media isn't 'real' connection, right? Well, yes that is right, we probably have all heard that before, but is it right? Are social media connections false connections? I would say yes, of course they’re false if they’re false. Unless the connection is ... real.
Whether it's via Facebook, or in a supermarket, over dinner, via email, a game of golf, a telephone call, or text messages, whether the connection between people is real or not has less to do with the medium through which it's conducted and more to do with authentic engagement.
For a start, you can't connect with Facebook because Facebook's not a person. We connect with other people. It's a big part of what makes us human. Nothing new. And we 've always needed avenues to facilitate connection, which before technology even existed were all physical, face-to-face interactions, then encompassed written interactions, and eventually telephone interactions.
So without technology you could pretty much talk directly to someone, or write to them, but does that mean that all interactions were 'real'? Real in the sense that they were genuine, authentic and honest engagement between two or more people. Not necessarily. I mean you can be as fake in real life as you can be over the phone, or in a letter, or email, or on Facebook, can't you? You can be dismissive, pompous, guarded, rude and pretentious on the phone, or over a meal, or a game of golf, and you don't even need a selfie to back it up. It's just that sometimes that's the way we are. We're human.
But the truth is that since technology has advanced to the point of endowing us with a plethora of tools and vehicles for connection, we're spoilt for choice. Connection is everywhere, on everything, available always and never switches off if you let it. We've got all the stuff we had before; there's still golf and phones (for talking), and letters and supermarkets and dinners and emails and all that, it's just that there's a whole lot more on top.
So you see, it's not that social media, or any other conduit for that matter, is not conducive to 'real' connection, it's just that we're still adapting to so many opportunities for connection being available. What this does is makes us 'connect', or be engaged in some form of social conduit constantly, because remember all the old ones still exist, but we've just got technology on top.
Always 'on' means we're not always engaging genuinely and authentically and when that happens, you don't have a 'real' connection. 'Real' connection doesn't have to be face to face, it doesn't have to be voice to voice or even one to one, it just has to achieve connection where two or more people are authentically engaged. You can achieve that on Facebook, just like you can achieve it over the phone or at the supermarket or by writing a book.
Social media is just another tool for human connection. Whether that connection is real or not depends on the humans participating in that engagement, not the conduit. Sure, we've never before been more overwhelmed and possibly overburdened by the opportunities for connection, but the quality of the connection itself still comes down to how human beings engage and communicate with one another.
You can make real and genuine connections on social media. It's all in the way you use it. For some people it's one of the only way they can make connections with people. Take people who are geographically isolated. Situationally isolated by illness or disability, either their own or otherwise. People who are shy or introverted. Who feel overwhelmed by physical interactions with others. So because they connect with others via social media, their connections aren't real? Ridiculous. I'm sure the the same was said about telephone conversations when they were first invented too, and you know what? Some people still believe it. And that's because your preference for connection is a matter of opinion, but the quality or the 'realness' of that connection depends on you and who you're connecting with, not the medium. Always has, always will.