It’s a part of our lives now. It’s not going anywhere. And, when used consciously, it’s quite fun. However, how much of our digital interactions are not used with awareness? Probably more than we’d like. This isn’t completely our fault; it’s now been admitted by designers at Twitter and Facebook that technology has been created this way by using ‘Captology’. This is a function used to capture our attention and make us addicted. Nice.
More importantly, how much have these types of interactions superseded our real world, face to face interactions? I think of something my friend said, ‘James really wants to find a girlfriend, he’s just so addicted to the apps. He can’t stop’.
I believe that when it comes to interactions our highest quality and most valuable ones, happen ‘in the field’. I can’t help it. I am a social anthropologist. Whether it’s networking, a party, flirting, or hanging out…everything is better when we are Out There. You might not subscribe to this belief. These are the top three reasons why people say they prefer interacting online. Perhaps you can relate.
1) It’s easier interacting online
There is no denying that sitting on your sofa, swiping and clicking, is easy. It’s also easier eating a McDonald’s hamburger than cooking a healthy dinner. Which one gives you long lasting satisfaction? Which one nourishes your mind and body? When using the ‘easy’ measurement, real world interactions might not win. Let’s change the measuring stick though. Instead, ask yourself; ‘how is this making me feel?’ And, looking at your experience, which one has produced better results?
2) I can be more myself online
Some people feel, when they are interacting in the real world, that they must abide by certain rules of protocol. Most of these rules involve individuals not behaving as they’d like. Basically, censoring themselves. Have you ever left a networking event or a party completely exhausted? Chances are you were acting in a way that was far from the real you. Every time you stayed in a conversation where you weren’t interested, instead of making a graceful exit, didn’t attempt to join in a conversation and, instead, became a hostage in someone’s monologue, or didn’t try changing a conversation subject to something that you were more interested in, you acted in a way that wasn’t in alignment with what you wanted to do. This means that you deplete your energy. When you are true to the real, you are always in flow; you have energy. So, it’s not that you can’t be yourself in the real world, it’s that something is stopping you from being and doing what feels right for you. It’s often preconceived notions of what you think is expected.
3) I like the attention I get online
The likes! The likes make me feel guuuud. Yes, I can understand how having 1,000 people like a photo of you could make you feel good about yourself. But what happens the next day? When you only get 2 likes? By this same yardstick, it means that you must feel bad. This is what happens when we give our self-worth, value, self-esteem for others to play with. You must make the decision; if I take the good, am I also willing to take the bad?. I have found that letting others determine my worthiness is a very slippery slope, determined by a fickle bunch. A more reliable way is to provide this ‘liking’ is via ourselves. Let each one of us be responsible for our own well being. And, much of this, rests on us following what we really want to do. We are the only constant in our lives. And, even then, we are constantly changing (which is a good thing!). Don’t rely on others to feed you – feed yourself – but just not McDonalds.
Hey, how would you like to get out there and see how this thing works, like, for realz? I think my new course is just the thing to help you. How about joining me, and a like-minded group of people, for a short course this June. You can learn more here.