Restoring the Human Connection

Posted February 18, 2022 by Brightly creative.

When AOL launched instant messenger in 1997, I was in sixth grade. Like most 11 year olds I was awkward, insecure and trying to navigate the social scene of middle school. I was the tallest girl in my grade, had braces, wore glasses and was sporting a bad at-home perm. Let’s be honest, I was trying to keep my head above the choppy waters of middle school. 

The only way that my friends and I would communicate would be via a telephone call, a lunchtime conversation or note that was passed during class. This shiny new option for chatting was extremely attractive (having the opportunity to talk without the chance of failing miserably and looking even more awkward?! Sign me up!) I distinctly remember the rush I would get running up the stairs after school to log onto our home computer. My children will never understand the anxiety that would pulsate through my veins as I was mid instant message and someone picked up the landline thus ending my ability to chat.

When I was given the opportunity to write my first Brightly Creative blog about social media, my mind went in a million different directions. I started researching trending topics and was initially planning to discuss how to “grow your network using social media.” I changed my mind last minute, deleted what I had written and decided to take a more organic route after a trip to the playground. 

I took my son to the park last week and started making small talk with another mom. (Side note, I am not a fan of small talk.) I am, however, quickly realizing that these frequent painful conversations are almost a necessary evil in order to make friends as an adult. Being a parent is wild. You’re trying to continue to navigate the world as an individual while keeping these tiny humans alive. The hardest part in my opinion? Making meaningful connections with other adults.

As I was researching social media topics I stumbled across an article that discussed the lack of communication skills in college students today. It was during reading this article that it hit me — the lack of communication skills did not begin with this year’s graduating class. The decline of communication, in my opinion, began in 1997. Somewhere along the way we stopped communicating in the traditional sense of the word. 

I am the generation that created MySpace pages, LiveJournals and Facebook posts instead of communicating our feelings directly to one another. Our screens quickly become our saviors, our safe havens and a place to disconnect from reality and create a new version of reality that we could easily manipulate. The time that I spent crafting the perfect away message using lyrics from my beloved boy bands in hopes that my crush would see it now blows my mind. And Samuel, if you’re reading this, those lyrics were for you. I want that time back.

In a world that feels divided in a million fragmented ways, it’s no wonder that finding deep connections can be challenging. The art of communication is quickly slipping away, and I will be the first to admit that I can feel it in myself. My phone has become an adult version of a security blanket, I feel completely naked without it. Sure I can use the excuse that I need to be reachable in case of an emergency with my kids or I need to make sure to stay on top of work, but the truth is, I’ve become addicted to a filtered version of reality. 

The purpose of this blog post is not to bash social media. As a naturally optimistic person I genuinely do believe that social media has the ability to unite, educate and inspire. I am using this post as a reminder to harness the power of social media as a communication tool so that connections between individuals and communities can grow, not fade.

Finding that delicate balance between using social media to connect and not get lost in the never-ending-scroll is a challenge. When looking at trends within the social space for 2022, one trend that was consistently discussed on multiple sites was posting content that is “raw, organic and unfiltered.” After years of seeing photoshopped images and cherry-picked pieces of what appears to be a “picture perfect life,” people have had enough. The desire to rewind and go back to a pre-filtered reality has become apparent in recent months as bloggers and influencers have removed edited photos and started shifting toward a relatable reality.  

As a consumer I am interested to see how brands pick up on this trend and begin to shift marketing efforts, and as a social media manager I am curious to see how different platforms begin to promote these much sought after changes. We’ve come a long way from instant messaging, and as long as dial-up is never again an option, I am excited to see what the future holds for the social media space.

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