Social Media and Imaginary Friendships

4 Feb

Does social media make you feel more connected or more isolated?

For me, it’s hard to tell.  I’ve made some in-real-life friendships that were started by social media.  I can even thank social media for my marriage– a mutual friend introduced Mr. Beez to my blog, and he got to know me well online before we met in person (single ladies, take note: if he’s interested in you, he should be reading what you write.  If he doesn’t care to read what you have to say, move on!)  I’ve learned about so many cool events and creative people online, without the internet I’d have a much quieter existence.

In contrast, there are times when social media makes me feel very alone.  When I see friends post fun events they’re at online, and I’m not there, I feel a twinge of exclusion (even despite the rational part of my brain saying that you can’t be invited to everything, all the time, by everybody).  Or sometimes, when I meet a blogger I’ve been reading for a while in real life, and assume they know as much about me as I know about them, only to learn they’ve never heard of my blog (how can I even expect to know that I’m there, if I’m not leaving a comment).  Although such minor occurrences, they’re a splash of cold water reminding me that there is a difference between life online and life out in life, and the interactions between the two aren’t the same.

The most surreal online/real life dichotomy I experienced was when I made the mistake of reading internet messageboards on pregnancy and parenting issues.  There is only one thing more absolutely insane than the comments sections on local news sites, and those are pregnancy/parenting messageboards.  The shrieking hysteria of those boards quickly convinced me that my family and friends were all judging me fiercely, were out to derail all of my best efforts about my child, and that if strayed from the learned advice of those messageboards and succumbed to the foolish persuasion of my family or those know-nothing doctors, then I wasn’t acting in my baby’s best interests (this is why now I offer my pregnant friends this sage advice: DO NOT READ THE INTERNET WHILE PREGNANT.)  To put it mildly, while pregnant, the internet made me crazy and at times drove a wedge between me and my not-as-crazy husband.  This, for sure, was isolating.

If yinz internet friends are up for some in-real-life hanging out, I’ve got these cool events on my calendar this week:

February’s DoughRaiser and TweetUp at Uno’s Chicago Grill, benefiting Greater Pittsburgh Area Food Bank  Grab a slice of pizza, chat with some tweeps, and raise some cash for the Food Bank.  What’s not to love?

After Hours @ the Library!  (this event has sold out, but there’s another one coming up in May)  Cocktails and snacks and music in the library? Sign me up!

afterhours_feb8-2013_banner

Creative Mornings Pittsburgh’s breakfast talk with Mike Capsambelis of Awesome Pittsburgh This breakfast talk series has been a smashing success. The tickets go FAST, so you need to get to your computer quickly when they become available. It’s such a fantastic opportunity to chat with energetic and creative people, and is a bright way to kick off a Friday morning.

So where do you weigh in? Does social media make you feel more connected? Or does it make you feel isolated?

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17 Responses to “Social Media and Imaginary Friendships”

  1. Franklin February 4, 2013 at 8:57 pm #

    I totally relate to your experience of the two different sides of social media. Sometimes it makes me feel connected, and other times it makes me feel maybe someone has a more cool life than me. One thing I enjoy doing is meeting in real life people I’ve only encountered online. Like, there’s a guy who is apparently a fellow computer programmer, but I’ve never talked to him, although I follow his blog and Twitter feed and Facebook feed and vice versa (at least to some point). We both run, so we gotta get together sometime to run!

    My wife and I have gone to the first Creative Mornings Pittsburgh events. I’m going to miss this week’s though.

    • BeezusKiddo February 4, 2013 at 9:07 pm #

      I’ve made it to all of the CM’s so far. It’s too bad you can’t make it to this week’s, but we’ll have to meet at March’s CM!

  2. alenaslife February 5, 2013 at 7:19 am #

    I have found social media an excellent way to reconnect with people I’d lost track of and to open myself up to new voices and opinions. Working in a high school I do understand that it can make some people feel excluded. Like any power, it should be wielded with caution.

    • BeezusKiddo February 5, 2013 at 8:42 am #

      I can’t even imagine the drama that social media incites in high school. I remember how catty it was when we had pagers and passed around notes, it can only be 1000 times worse when you get the internet involved.
      I agree with you too about reconnecting. For me it’s a great way to stay in contact with relatives who are far away, and who I’d probably rarely, if ever, talk to without social media.

  3. Judy February 5, 2013 at 9:23 am #

    Social media makes me feel both–connected and isolated. I really enjoy staying in touch with old friends who are out of town. Now that my son is away at college, i enjoy reading his posts and seeing his pictures. That being said, the local social media does make me feel isolated. i have to constantly remind myself that all of those pictures of my friends having fun are just that. Nobody posts pictures of depressing things, or real-life things, because nobody is interested. It is a balance–constantly.

    • BeezusKiddo February 5, 2013 at 9:31 am #

      I think social media has done a lot for my relationship with my mom. she of course “likes” every single thing I write, but she gets to be much more involved with my life through social media, than if we were just having phone calls.

      • William R. Reynolds Young February 5, 2013 at 1:35 pm #

        I agree, Social Media has improved with my relationship with my father and brother. It makes those short catch up moments that much easier and allows us to see what’s going on in each other lives at any moment.

        On the other hand it tends to make folks pry more but this can easily create better relationships!

    • Franklin February 5, 2013 at 3:22 pm #

      I blog about my “real life”, including ups and downs, and probably most people don’t find that interesting, although some do. I have been surprised both by people from around the world discovering my blog and sending me email as well as people I run into in town who mention some post I wrote. I guess the more I write, the more likely some old post somewhere will resonate with someone somewhere, so that encourages me to keep going.

  4. AlainaFrederick February 5, 2013 at 11:47 am #

    Lately I’ve felt the seclusion. I have a few very close relationships online and will probably never meet them in-real-life either. I think that’s really cool how you meet your husband – oh how I wish my husband would read my blog and follow me on Twitter – would make the who “So what did you do today?” so much easier!

    • BeezusKiddo February 5, 2013 at 10:24 pm #

      The funny thing is, I’m terrible about telling the same story over and over. So my husband reads my thoughts on the blog, and then I tell him, and then I forgot I told him so I tell him again, and usually I even tell him again…he’s very patient…

  5. redpenmamapgh February 5, 2013 at 12:36 pm #

    Oh, yes, comments on parenting boards/articles and news sites — they should be avoided at all costs! I tell soon-to-be new moms/parents: grow thick skin. Be confident in the fact that what you choose to do as a mom/parent is right for you and your baby and that’s all that matters. (There’s one area I have that is non-negotiable, but we don’t need to go into that here.)

    My social media activity makes me feel more connected. I have trouble making IRL social things often because my kids are young (8, 6 and 2) and I work full-time. I choose very carefully about when I’m leaving them with a sitter and why. As much as I would love to go to more tweetups and so on, I may need a sitter for a Tuesday in March to do something at my kids’ school. That kind of thing.

    I love my Twitter friends, and I’ve met many, especially at GNOs. I like the FB bloggers page.

    • BeezusKiddo February 5, 2013 at 10:26 pm #

      I totally understand the work full time/parenting dance. I like that social media is there all hours of the day and night, so if the only time I have available to be social is some odd hour, I can still hop on the computer and feel like I’m being social.

  6. William R. Reynolds Young February 5, 2013 at 1:41 pm #

    Love the article, and thank you for the shout out about PghTweetup! I am one to confess I am horrible at remember names and that has already made me look like a fool many times. That’s why I cheat at PghTweetup event and get everyone name tags! Oh no, my secret has slipped.

    When it comes to blog and message boards they can get very personal. There are many moments where I spend more time reading interesting comments and laughing at some out of the world comments. However there are always time when you get pulled in and it gets tough. This is especially true when you feel you or your business are being attacked!

  7. Rob Moses February 6, 2013 at 10:48 pm #

    Ya that’s a tuff one for sure~! Social Media is great though, as long as you don’t waist ALL your time on it haha.

  8. Erin February 8, 2013 at 6:52 pm #

    This is a hard one for me to answer. I’m kind of a blogging loner, not really involved in blogging-specific social media or events, and I’m not really a part of any blogging circles. I use social media mostly to promote my Etsy stuff and to keep up with bands I like, so in that respect I will say it has made me feel more connected.

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