Our generation’s daily lives are so integrally tied into social media because we are, in fact, disconnected from the world. We are growing up disconnected. Loneliness drives us to share feelings in effort to connect with someone and cockiness drives us to share moments and experiences with the world in efforts to make ourselves look cool. And then there are the voyeurs; whose void of discontent of their disconnect is momentarily satisfied (or enlarged) by scanning the post worthy moments shared by their ‘friends’.
As our world has grown increasingly technology driven, there becomes less of a need to be in the same physical space as another person. For the kids and teens that grew up in this reality, physical closeness becomes less an integral part of their experience with life, a void develops. The bonding and connection that happens, not just consciously but unconsciously, when one interacts with people when than physically come together is vital for humans.
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs exemplifies how important both esteem and a sense of belonging are to humans. Maslow’s theory express the idea that after a humans’ first two levels of needs are met (physiological and safety needs), love and belonging are in ascending order next. Humans feel a need for belonging, and in some cases this need can become so strong that it overrides our typically more basic needs-physiological and safety needs. I explain this because I believe it sheds light on the level of importance of interpersonal relationships play to our most basic needs, growth and survival. This young generation is even surpassing the need for safety in their immense level of sharing their lives in a quest for belonging. It is obvious that all humans long for love, but when we keep in mind that belonging is as important as love, it makes sense why a lack of interpersonal connections in ones’ youth would create loneliness.
In the absence of this need for connection being met, people can develop social anxiety and loneliness and look to withdraw even more from engaging in interpersonal relationships; making a world behind a computer, in which the anxiety of interacting with people is gone, that much more appealing.
Nearing the top of Maslow’s Hierarchy is esteem. Esteem is ones’ desire to be accepted and valued by others. A person’s lack of self-esteem may drive them to seek recognition or fame but it would not lead them to achieve their desired goal, belonging. Internal acceptance must be achieved before one can build their self-esteem. It seems that many of us missed that step of internal acceptance. Albeit, it is said that one must have internal acceptance before seeking it outwardly, I would argue that connecting with people allows a person to feel that their needs and desires are also the needs of others. In finding that affinity with others we are ensuring that internal feelings of “Am I ok?” are justified. Finding affinity or rejection with peers in early childhood years is intimately connected with how a person’s psychodynamics play into their behaviors and personality for the rest of their lives.
Another common complaint or generalization (but, in my opinion pretty spot on) of our generation, is our lack of trying. Many of us were born to a generation of hard working, baby boomers who excelled beyond their born stature in life to provide greater opportunity for future generations. Despite our driven parental figures, maybe we felt less need to excel beyond if it was all provided. What if people looked around and wondered why we should work this hard to be this unhappy? Maybe money and achievement though career success was not the key to our happiness? But, what was?
Happiness from within must be achieved before seeking respect from others.
I say, instead why not explore what is motivating us to post or what desires are pushing us to be the voyeur of other’s lives and instead, what content is really share-worthy, one might find more satisfaction/fulfillment in just exploring what it means
So, before scanning the lives of others and posting our moments and feelings its important to ask yourself am I happy now? And if the answer is no, what will make me happy? Because seeking likes or comparisons to your own present moment will not help you belong to something, or truly connect with another- in fact it will do the opposite.
“…the findings of a new survey, which showed that as millennials spend more time engaged on social media platforms, it’s causing them to be less social in real life.” Read more here