Why do we people friend request random people?
Most of the people who friend request me never respond to my messages. I make the assumption that if you’re looking to connect when we have no relation to each other in real life, it is because you are interested in working with me in some capacity. The lack of reply indicates that isn’t the case.
So my brain starts questioning, “Why connect with strangers on social media sites?”
What comes to mind is the similarity of Facebook walls and Instagram feeds to tabloids.
You get this huge influx of pictures and quotes and worries and recipes and celebrations and political opinions and philosophical insights when you follow a new person. All of this cluttered stuff coming at you from the outside. It’s other people’s lives clamoring on top of your own.
This holds no appeal for me, which is likely why I have the question.
To care about the minutiae of the lives of people I do not know is not something in me. Like actors. Harry Potter is Harry Potter. Faith from Buffy is Faith from Buffy. Knowing who they are beyond that is unnecessary for the type of interaction that is taking place between us - ie me as voyeur, them as exhibitionist.
We could assert that scrolling through social media filled with the lives of people we don’t know is the same type of transaction. We watch, they post. We post, they watch. No meaningful interaction is exchanged. (Like the Black Mirror episode where everyone is rating every autopilot interaction for points.) And we do that for an average of (I looked it up) 2.5 hours a day.
For 2.5 hours a day we engage in non-celebrity tabloid perusal.
What value are we getting out of that?
It comes back to the known fact that social media is a distraction. What is insidious about this type of distraction is that it isn’t just filling up our spare minutes in an elevator or on the bus. It is stopping us from consciously engaging with our own lives, filling it instead with other people’s to compare, contrast, judge, and otherwise avoid confronting ourselves.
We would rather live someone else’s life for a couple of hours a day than sit [un]comfortably in our own skin.
We are using this form of “connection” to dissociate.
Today, when you are finding yourself sifting through the numb world of comments and likes, stop and ask yourself why. Why are you preferring to pay attention to strangers than to sit in the quiet with yourself? What is underneath the numbness?