Why Digital Personalities Aren't As Valuable As Human Connection

by Kira Asatryan

We all know social media has become a major part of our lives. For many of us, it’s the main way we keep track of what others are up to.

In the words of Kendall Jenner,

"I think social media has taken over our generation. It's a big part of our lives and it's kind of sad."

Many think our generation is addicted to social media because of the instant gratification it gives the ego. It’s a place for us to show off our assets and adventures in real-time.

Find yourself feeling yourself? Snap some selfies, and rack up some likes.

But, social media isn’t all about instant validation for the sharer. It’s also a place to follow, stalk and figure out what others are up to.

This seemingly endless desire to know more about what other people are doing — actual friends and celebrities alike — is both satisfied and perpetuated by social media. Our update feeds feed us.

But, in reference to Angelina Jolie’s tattoo, “What nourishes me, destroys me.”

The more we know about another person’s life, it seems the more we want to know. Even if we already get plenty of updates from Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat, we’ll still friend a person on Facebook just for the hell of it. We might even follow said person on Tumblr and Vine, without really knowing what the point of all the following is.

The desire to constantly know what others are up to is like an itch only social media can reach. But, the more we scratch it, the more it itches. It makes us ask ourselves, "Should we just leave the itch alone?"

We all know from experience that constantly checking for new posts is not all that fun. It doesn’t really make us happy. And, it’s not just because FOMO increases with every refresh.

Our love-hate relationship with our feeds is falling more and more to the side of hate because it only captures what others are doing and how they look doing it. It shows us how many friends are doing it with them, and how much fun it all seems to be.

By emphasizing what someone is doing and how he or she looks doing it, social media detracts from who the person is on the inside.

We think we want to know more about what people are doing because it feels like a form of connection, but that is just an imitation of connection. Knowing who someone is on the inside is the only way to create the feeling of an actual relationship -- that’s the high we’re really chasing.

The thing we’re craving is to know more about who others really are. We want to get to know the people, and we want others to know us as people, too. It’s surprisingly difficult to get to know people these days. We can easily be dishonest, and we have a million excuses for being unresponsive.

We’ve learned to deflect and avoid with aplomb. We’re experts at ghosting, and via social media, we can appear like we’re revealing a lot, without really disclosing anything.

Our generation is experiencing the loss of natural opportunities to get to know one another. We secretly miss the notion of running into a friend at the market and spontaneously catching up.

We privately yearn for our next boyfriend or girlfriend to approach us on Main Street and strike up a conversation. Instagram may be the new Main Street, but its conversations are significantly less sincere.

In our private moments, we want to know less about what others are doing. We wish to see less of their pouty lips, rippled abs and extravagant dinners; instead, we’d love to see more of who they really are.

What are they worried about? What are they insecure about? What do they fear? What do they dream about? What do they wish for the future?

This is human understanding; this is intimate connection.

Show me a person who is happy to reveal his or her worries, insecurities and fears, and I’ll show you a person who’s not refreshing her feed.