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Social Media and Disconnection

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In a relatively short period of time, social media rose and took center stage in our lives. Information of all kinds goes through, and is spread, across social media platforms.

I consider social media, and the Internet in general, brought things that to my understanding are positive. This ties mostly with how we’re connecting as a collective. Information travels extremely quickly, in a manner that is less dependent on, or dictated by, gatekeeper channels such as television networks. A vast array and depth of useful information of all conceivable types are readily available for search. Each person’s voice has the potential to spread further and farther, as opposed to being circumscribed to their circle of friends and family. This gives you the opportunity to be more informed, and be in touch with more sources of information and opinion of your choice, beyond the ones your immediate, localized circumstances would provide you. This also places you in touch with an equal amount of sources of distraction or noise if you want — but the choice is nonetheless there.

This doesn’t mean every single opinion, piece of news, or bit of information, is worth your time — or is even truthful. But what it does mean, objectively speaking, is that we are more connected as a civilization than ever before.

The internet, the new communication technologies, and social media, also have less positive things to them. One would be the stereotypical image of having everyone with their eyes on the phone, even when on the street, instead of interacting with each other. Another is the consumption of standards of beauty and images of vanity and perfection, projected not just by celebrities but often by the neighbor next door in their social media account. But while these are valid points with very real implications, my perspective is that social media created nothing new. It did not make people less connected among themselves — they never were that connected in the first place. It did not make people project idealized images for others to see — they already did that all along. Social media only amplified those things, making them more visible.

Was there some point in time when people had the habit of sitting down, look each other in the eyes, and have meaningful, genuine conversations about what truly, deeply mattered to them? Certainly some, at some points, did — but that wasn’t the norm. A group of friends gathering together speak about each other’s partners, sexual habits, social trivialities and drama, i.e. who marries whom, who stays with whom. But they will not actually open up with each other and share a conversation of inner meaning. A married couple could speak about their friends, their family, their children, their parish, the groceries, but they could spend their entire lives without ever, not once, speak about themselves and how they truly felt. People were never that connected: with each other, or with themselves within.

That’s not to say things aren’t changing. Times are evolving rapidly. I consider people today seek more and more sources of meaning, try to be more true to themselves in relationships, and explore what ‘meaning’ represents to them personally. My point is, that social media and the internet didn’t create anything that wasn’t already there.

Fabricated Image

One of my major points of concern with social media, or perhaps with the underlying disconnection reflected in it, is the projection of an artificial image for the consumption of others.

An aspect of this would certainly be celebrities posting carefully curated photos fostering a certain idealization of beauty and body image, as well as lifestyle choices, based to a significant extent in fabricated, unrealistic photos — i.e. taken at a certain specific angle, with a certain pose, under a certain lighting, sometimes manipulated using photo editing, etc. But this is not just about celebrities. The ‘common’ person may be invested in projecting an idealized image in their social media for others to see as well. They may showcase visible attributes of wealth, travel, romantic and sexual conquests, social belonging, happiness and fulfillment, fun, motivation, etc, almost as if they’re carefully crafting their own television commercial — of themselves. Then, when others see these projected images, and they compare them with their own lives, they may be seduced into believing those images at face value, and be tempted to adulate, romanticize, and/or replicate them.

I have nothing whatsoever against curating the version of yourself you show to others, or having an eye for style. If you can showcase a decent photo of yourself, it makes no sense to use another you think you look worse in. You’re free to curate in any way you want the image you put out for others to see. You’re also free to put forth some things of your life for others to see, while keeping others private. You’re entitled to privacy; you don’t have to show everything there is to know about you, in a raw manner, just to stay “truthful”. The only thing that matters, is that the facets you do show to others, honor, are reflective, of who you truly are.

What I do have an objection against, is when the image projected in based on unrealistic premises, thus creating an unrealistic perception of yourself, that is to say, one that doesn’t reflect reality. This is, for example, when you look at the photos of someone in Facebook and you’re led to believe the person is super happy, super excited, super pumped to live life, when in fact they aren’t. What they’ll most likely have, in the vast majority of cases, is the exact same disconnection the observer has within, only they’re simply trying to paper over the cracks with the perception of success, admiration, and acceptance, they manage to create in others. And they’ll do this because they haven’t realized the meaning within — they are disconnected. The only personal worth they can acknowledge, is the one they can obtain externally.

This was not invented by social media.

Work colleagues would seek to flaunt their sports car, their partner, that new travel destination, that new sport, gym, gadget or outfit, as well as their enthusiasm and drive for achieving the next goal. Family members will willingly discuss just about anything at dinner parties, but will never convey anything other than having a trouble-free relationship, solid marriage, and perfectly-reared children. Projecting an image is not something that came from social media. People invented it long before.


The first possible consequence of buying into the false premises being projected, is getting hooked in them, worshiping them, and perhaps trying to mimic them. They become your reference. This is because you miss inner connection, and you seek meaning, and those shiny photos sure look like they have lots of it.

But the moment you buy into it, you’re participating in the disconnection game: you try to cover the inner void with appearances, and in doing so you’re not actually investing any time or attention in connecting with anything from within. You stay disconnected. You’ll remain trapped on external expectations and the image you’re being told is what’s right and cool. However this type of pattern does serve some purpose, at least in the long run. You’ll eventually understand the projected image from others holds no meaning — neither to you nor to them — you’ll realize true meaning is internal, and must be searched within.

But probably the most nefarious aspect to these projections, is that they affect your sense of what’s normal.

Normal becomes a perception that life holds no challenge, no lack, no trouble, and no doubt. Normal becomes having the ideal relationship — or a relationship — a solid emotional self, a healthy life, plenty of money, abundant drive and motivation, clear objectives, and an established sense of purpose. The implication is, that without these things, you’re not normal.

This perception of what is normal, how things “should” be, comes not just from Facebook or social media pictures but essentially from the disconnection between individuals that makes them project an idealized image among themselves, for each other to consume.

So what happens when you don’t have, or you suddenly lack, any of these things considered normal? What happens when you realize you’re in a troubled relationship, or you can’t seem to have any relationship? What happens when you have inner uncertainty, lack of confidence, lack of identity, lack of health, lack of money, lack of power, or no sense of purpose? What happens when you have a problem, a challenge, or when you feel different, or differently? Or any other issue that differs from the norm, and you can’t just pretend or shake off?

First, because you have limited reference of others going through what you’re going, you’re instantly going to feel flawed. Something’s wrong with me.

You’re going to feel different, helpless, and alone. No one else seems to have gone what you’re going through. On top of this, you can’t reveal others what’s going on, because in doing so, given the game of “perfect image” everyone is playing, would be an admission of failure. So you’re going to fear coming across as weak, different, outside of the norm, perhaps a failure or a disappointment. If your issue is serious enough, you’re going to feel the victim of some unknown, unique nightmare that only seems to be happening to you.

Also, chances are that when you’re facing a problem without any external references of it, you might not even realize you’re going through one. In which case, you’re going to have to spend time to even begin acknowledging you might have something to you that is different from what you know. Then, you’re going to spend more time deciding whether to reveal to others the issue you have, so that you might receive help, or simply try to take your differences out into the world. And only then, once you start acknowledging the issue (if it is an “issue”) and asking for help about it, will you have a chance of beginning to address any problems and understand what those problems are — often an endeavor of its own.

And all of this time had to be spent — and the suffering, anxiety, and uncertainty endured — purely because of lack of connection: between individuals who don’t know how to be truthful and how to come clean with each other, in a society that worships an idea of perfection and is neither open nor tolerant of difficulty or even difference.

Then, this simultaneously comes from, and creates, a lack of connection within, with one’s inner world, preventing you to come clean with yourself, and what you need to be well and in balance, openly and swiftly.


The major problem I have with this idealization of “normal” is that it actively prevents you from seeking help for the problems you might have.

Seeking help is often a necessary first step for healing, of any type. If you have an issue that requires help but you don’t seek it, the issue will remain indefinitely, and may even get worse and deepen over time. If you have a doubt, an inner conflict, or a behavioral blockage of some sort, but you’re never willing to address it, face it, chances are it’s not going to go away on its own. Seeking help or support is not abnormal — it’s something you have to do if you need it! Believing otherwise is the ultimate disconnection: you’re out of touch with what you actually need to be well.

Life is not about the “normal” you get in television or social media. Normal is not what you see on commercials. Life is about challenge and doubt. Life is about restoring balance when balance isn’t present, and lack of balance may sometimes get to a point where it can only be felt and explored through challenge. Which in turn requires you being connected with yourself to even begin to acknowledge it. Connection doesn’t necessarily involve knowing all the answers — but at least knowing what the questions are.

So much anguish and despair could be prevented, even if solely by knowing about someone else who went through the same. But for those kinds of references to be more commonplace, it would require a society where individuals are comfortable dealing with their own unique identities, in touch with their own lives, and their insecurities, shortcomings, or simply what they’re unfamiliar with. As opposed to a society that worships some fabricated fantasy of perfection, and dismisses whatever else remains.

There is no normal. Normal is being different. Normal is having issues, and experiencing challenge. Normal is being uncertain. Normal is knowing some things and not knowing others. Normal is not knowing how to navigate something, or handling a type of experience or feeling. Fear is normal. Anxiety is normal. Insecurity is normal. Normal is also — or it should be — seeking support or references if you need them. Which everyone does, at some point or another.

Everyone has issues, doubts, and goes through challenge. Everyone is down here on Earth facing serious work, and every single person has their own issues. No one’s here on holiday. To not even be connected with this, and to perceive “normal” as being something idyllic and perfect, and everything else being a deviation from it, a flaw, is the most gross form of disconnection there is. It stipulates what imperfection is, and then creates stigma towards that imperfection. And it gets you stuck: stuck on not seeking help for your challenges; stuck on your envy and frustration for not experiencing the same perfection others seem to project outward; and stuck on aspiring for a fabricated image of how life should be, instead of focusing on how life actually is.

To me that’s what disconnection is about.

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