Consider social media’s role in modern life, its ability to mold relationships, and how it impacts an individual’s self-image.
How would you define a friend? Is it someone you could turn to no matter what? Just call my name and I’ll be there? Or is it someone who you’re in near-constant contact with, speaking to all day, every day? Is it the person you’ve got the longest “Snapstreak” (chatted on Snapchat for over three days straight) with? How much one-on-one time do you have together? And what are your conversations like – deeply engaged and empathetic, or more interrupted and punctuated into bite-size snippets?
The impact that social media is having on all of our relationships, spanning our families, friends and romantic couplings to our very relationships with ourselves, has been fundamentally altered by the way we use our devices to communicate with each other. What we now need from our networks is in flux, and the very nature of friendship and the foundations on which we believe they should be based have changed almost beyond recognition. The question is: is social media enhancing our social lives, or is it doing the exact opposite?
Humans are by definition social beings. From a genetic perspective, we have evolved to live in social groups for both protection and reproduction. Being social makes us buoyant: connection to a group makes us happier; social exchanges reduce the stress hormone cortisol, while simultaneously raising feel-good oxytocin and serotonin. Being social is basically like biological crack – so is it any wonder that we’ve become so very quickly, so very deeply infatuated with social media?
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