I've sat through more than a few seminars and workshops where mental health professionals pontificate on how social media relationships aren't real and how they actually impair in real life interaction.I don't know where some of these folks are getting their statics and samples, but I know their talking points are nothing like the life I (and so many bloggers I know) live.
Back when pen pals were popular were those relationships attacked? "You only see their handwriting... You aren't REAL friends!" What about people who only see each other once a year in person? Are they having a real relationship? The thing about social media and online relationship building is the way that interpersonal connection can be expedited. It is a gift and a curse. We are present with each other on a, sometimes, daily basis. Rather than completely disregard what some of these speakers so passionately have spoken about, I decided to be critical and self examine the community that I love.
So some of those critiques hold some water. There is a segment of folks social media interaction as a form of armchair activism. They don't put in the work passed their 140 characters and emojis. There are also fakers and trolls. Truthfully, though, I don't see how this dynamic is that removed from everyday life. Don't we have those types at our church meetings, parenting groups, and grocery stores? I think by creating a line where we rule out social media as a viable form of relationship building we do our communities a disservice. As a mental health professional I am constantly witnessing the way social media has created inclusion for folks who feel as though they'd otherwise not have access. My online friends are my real friends. We show up for each other. We mourn together. We grow and learn and live in a daily space together.
If you think social media relationships are fake or somehow not as authentic as IRL connections I would challenge you to stretch your definitions and evaluate how you could become more connected through platforms. Maybe the inauthenticity you are picking up on is your own temptation to pretend online. Maybe you aren't being much of a friend to the people in your circle and that is why you have difficulty conceptualizing social media as anything but a mirage.
I want to be known as someone who shows up for those around me. In real life or online.
Your online friends might not be your real friends... But mine are, at least the ones that aren't total assholes are. ❤️