Social networks are a reality and have changed the way we communicate with each other. Not only do we pay great attention to our presence in these networks, but we also delegate to them the channel of communication with friends that we do not see often.
Social networks have also changed the travel experience. It’s no longer just the incipient (and annoying) presence of selfie sticks alone. The experience of travelling, always associated with seeing monuments, cultures and cities with your own eyes, seems to be obsolete: now many tourists are limited to seeing reality through the screens of smartphones . Immortalizing the moment through a gadget seems to be more important than discovering it for oneself, with the senses that Mother Nature has endowed us with. It’s travel 2.0., and I’m not talking about walking down Google Street.
Life behind a screen
This is a real shame and many psychologists warn that living life through constant exposure to social networks can lead to quite a few problems in the way we relate to other people. And not only because of the obvious difficulty of establishing conversations and “friendships” through the networks, but also because of the self-esteem problems associated with this dependence on the mobile phone . Dependence that, by the way, is called nomaphobia.
We spend more time thinking about how others perceive us than about living our own adventures and experiences. We check all day to see if we have new notifications on social networks, instead of doing activities that we like and that allow us to meet other people with whom we can do things in real life. We need to feel connected to other people, because it is one of the necessary elements to feel happy, be healthy and live longer, but… are we doing it right?
The 3 ways social networks destroy our relationships
We must regain the ability to relate without the need for a screen in between. Social networks can help us keep in touch with friends who live far away, but that’s all it should be: a support.
We are going to review some ways that new technologies and social networks can diminish the quality of our personal relationships in real life… and some tips to improve the situation.
1. Do you feel like you’re missing something? FOMO syndrome
What is it that really attracts us to social media? Sharing moments. In the form of photography, video, status, joke… but sharing moments with others. But although this sounds very nice, the truth is that many people live so attentive to social networks that they end up missing those unique moments, in the eagerness to take a picture or to explain it to their contacts.
We are denying ourselves the possibility of experiencing happiness and special moments just because of the narcissistic need to show the public how happy we are or the very interesting life we have. Moreover, we live subject to positive reinforcement, in the form of likes and comments, which aggravates the problem.
This is one of the problems, but it’s not the only one. In fact, we are already starting to talk about the existence of FOMO syndrome, whose affected people have the bad feeling of “missing something”. It is a situation of permanent anguish, which does not allow us to enjoy the day-to-day and personal relationships in the flesh.
More about FOMO syndrome: “FOMO syndrome: feeling that others’ lives are more interesting”
2. Addiction and self-absorption: Nomaphobia
There’s a fine line between pleasure and addictive behavior. When we start using social networks, unconsciously, we may use them as a way to get validation from our contacts , and this may cause us to enter into a negative dynamic.
The brain regions that regulate the sensation of pleasure reward us positively in the face of novelty, and it goes without saying that social networks bombard us with thousands of pure news items: new posts, new images, new news, every second that passes.
It is ironic that a tool that has been designed to connect us with other people makes us feel isolated and obsessed by the image we are offering. Addiction to social networks also comes hand in hand with anxiety and, in serious cases, depressive conditions.
When we spend a few days on the beach, our main motivation should be to enjoy those moments of relaxation, and not be aware of the source of pleasure that we generate social networks through the photos and comments that we publish.
3. Social networks and happy social relationships: can they coexist?
A recent investigation showed that the mere presence of a smartphone in the context of a conversation between two people (face to face) interferes with the feeling of intimacy , connection and the quality of communication. Almost nothing.
We are social beings and we need to be in contact with other people. When we interact with someone in real life, we understand their emotions and feelings and exchange other information beyond the strictly verbal. If technological devices get our conversations, we are likely to become desensitized and our ability to empathize with other people will gradually diminish, and so will our ability to genuinely connect with others. Although social networks were designed to connect us to each other, they may be taking us away from perceiving the needs and thoughts of the people around us, and this is jeopardizing the quality of communication and ultimately, social and family relationships.
Social networks and happiness
Actually, we should try to make a very simple reflection: does being permanently connected to social networks make us live magical moments? Your answer will probably be no. We must learn to live the moment without the intermediation of public exposure. Let’s not make our life a kind of Truman Show .