I have read quite a lot of articles discussing about the irrelevance of social media and how it has changed, mostly negatively, the way people connect with each other.
In my case, I am more than 2,000 kilometers away from home. Yes, I work overseas and I am far from the people I grew up with for almost a year now. So far to get a hug from my family, to play with my dogs and to hang out with my friends. So far that there’s no direct flight that connects my current location to my hometown, need to spend one whole day or stay overnight in the airport terminal for the layover time before I can finally land in my home country.
I have friends and family members who are scattered around the globe. In fact, my father also works overseas, in the Middle East.
Like my opening statement, I have read articles that say technology these days is turning us into antisocial individuals who prefer sending GIFs or stickers than actually getting together to meet and catch up physically.
Well, I won’t deny that but most of us, if not all, really prefer the comfort behind our mobile devices. That even sending greeting cards and writing letters have turned into instant messages with memes and emojis to level it up. Sad but true.
But let’s consider stepping out from the social zones and take a different perspective.
Imagine organising your best friend’s birthday party – 15 years ago. Not having the same social media coverage as now.
The usual way is you sending mail invitation cards or meeting each of your other friends in person to get them to attend to that party. By the way, you have to buy actual cards before that. Not to mention scouting for the perfect venue, caterers, entertainers, suppliers and other event needs.
How are you going to divide yourself while still doing your normal day-to-day workload and personal stuff?
Hard. Isn’t it?
But today, you can create your own invitation card through apps online and send it via Facebook or messaging apps. Wait. You even have the option to create a Facebook event for that. For the suppliers, you can browse their pages and websites to get their cost and reserve the date.
Hassle-free. That easy.
It is so easy for us to blame technology – for eating our time, for making us antisocial, for taking away the rawness in the connections we make with our fellows.
But come on, these problems have existed as old as us.
Let’s face it, people. The real problem is our laziness, our incapability to connect, the lack of desire to communicate and to reach out. And the failure to see the human side of these robotic apps we have.
Real-talk – people who don’t want to make the effort to get in touch with you, won’t make any efforts to get in touch with you. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and all others only give them an easy out. It makes it simple to not to pick up the phone or go catch up in person, because you are already caught up via your Facebook posts, daily tweets and Instagram stories.
None of those matter.
But, do you know what truly matters?
Speaking for myself, it encourages me to truly make an effort to connect with those I do want to stay in touch with. If I want to stay connected with an old friend, social media makes it easy. If I don’t, it gives me an excuse not to. An easy excuse, to be frankly honest.
As I mentioned, I have been away for almost a year now but I still got the same old friends I used to catch up in person before. I still get good morning messages from them, we still celebrate mini victories and still give each other life updates once in a while. My family, especially, I have become closer to them. See the irony there?
Rosangela Ludovico, an illustrator and comic artist, once said, “I know it’s trendy to fight the system and cry that we are all becoming slaves of technology, but this attitude overlooks that computers and phones are tools for communicating. When someone thinks I’m an idiot smiling at a machine, I’m actually smiling at my girlfriend who is 10,000 miles away and whom I would have never met if not for these newfangled electronics. As they say: when the wise man points to the moon, the fool looks at the finger.”
You see, social media isn’t responsible for the woes of the human condition. It makes it easier than ever to stay connected no matter how far we go.
Not only that, technology brings me connections I wouldn’t have possibly made without it. For example, I have this friend of more than 4 years now and we managed to keep up with each other despite distance and having technology as our way of communication. Now that we are literally close to each other, I have found family in her even if I am away from home.
To me, it all boils down to real efforts. Guess what. Until now I still write letters to people. The difference is that I compose them on WhatsApp or on Gmail and the sincerity is still there. Social media makes it easier for me to send them or to make sure it reached to them a minute after midnight; to get the right timing despite time difference.
Let’s take this moment to think and appreciate how these products of modernity brought us closer and tighter.
Even though people are thousands of miles away, I can talk to them instantly. They can see my face and I can see theirs with no lag. Granting the internet connection’s good. But regardless, they don’t feel that far at least.
It’s going to be my first Christmas without my Mama’s spaghetti and macaroni salad, my first Christmas far from my sister’s warmth and first Christmas to be literally away from home. And to have these platforms in my fingertips, plus a home in this foreign place, it does not feel too lonely and sad as it may sound after all. It saves us a lot of worries and it expands the celebration.
This year, it’s going to be a three-way celebration for my family – me in Cambodia, my father in Saudi Arabia and home.
It is just so amazing and heartwarming that technology has come this far, that I can stay close with my family and friends even though we are so far apart.