Before the internet ever existed, we were able to update only a few select people about our lives at a time by meeting together or talking over the phone. This has dramatically changed over the years and now we live in a hyper-connected society where we have the digital apps and tools to broadcast every second of our lives to hundreds of people if we wanted to.
The advent of social media has brought about revolutionary ways to communicate with each other, but there is still one big problem that needs to be addressed.
Many relationships have become more superficial.
The reason why many people share on social media has become less about connecting with others and more about impressing them.
For most, rather than social media being a tool to help you feel more connected with a group of friends, it has become an addictive feedback loop of constantly posting something and then checking on it hoping to see that people are acknowledging you. By doing this, you allow your self-worth to be determined by the number of how many like or comments you get.
This behavior is creating a huge barrier that causes people to feel afraid to put their authentic selves out there. Instead, they filter out all the bad and boring parts of their lives and only put out what’s most interesting. This, in turn, prevents them from ever having the chance at creating genuine relationships.
Even a former Facebook executive has come out and said: “I think we have created tools that are ripping apart the social fabric of how society works.”
The social environment has greatly changed over the years and it’s now easier than ever for people to wear a mask on and put out a glorified version of themselves on the internet. If we’re not careful, our children will follow in the same footsteps.
Our children are lacking environments that cultivate authentic human interaction.
We are hyper-connected through social media, but we are losing the environments that produce real connections.
Think about when instant messaging first became popular. You are talking in real time, but you have the ability to delete and edit your responses before sending it. You have much more time to think about how you respond before you say anything.
It’s gotten to the point where the younger generation now considers it rude to call someone instead of texting them.
“Young people say they avoid voice calls because the immediacy of a phone call strips them of the control that they have over the arguably less-intimate pleasures of texting, e-mailing, Facebooking or tweeting. They even complain that phone calls are by their nature impolite, more of an interruption than the blip of an arriving text.” -Washington Post, Texting generation doesn’t share boomers’ taste for talk
Then came a whole array of apps like Instagram, Twitter and Facebook that further enable us to edit ourselves to our liking before releasing anything to the world.
The culture of how people usually communicate has shifted from live unedited interactions to more delayed polished ones. This gives us more time to try and make ourselves look better, but it gives us much less opportunity to cultivate more genuine relationships.
Real connection only occurs when you come from a place of authenticity and vulnerability.
It is now a huge risk more than ever for our kids to just be themselves. One wrong social media post can ruin their reputation. One bully can embarrass them in front of a whole online network of people they know. It makes total sense why people have their guard up and carefully craft their image online.
Just like many adults, our children are afraid of ending up in embarrassing situations so they feel the need to protect themselves by acting like a different person. This is exactly why they need to have the safe spaces where they don’t always feel the need to impress, please, or be someone other than themselves.
Whether it’s an insensitive comment thrown at them on the internet, something a bully did to them at school, or a harsh teacher’s expectations they didn’t meet up to, our children need a place to help them process and effectively handle their shame.
Shame and vulnerability expert, Brene Brown, gave three simple steps to overcome a shame storm while it’s happening, which was to talk to yourself like your talking to someone you love, reach out to someone you trust, and tell your story.
This is the only way the authentic connection can ever occur with ourselves, with other people. and with God.
Most importantly, our children need to know that it’s totally ok to be imperfect as long as we learn to be vulnerable with God because it’s only then that he meets us where we are at in our weakness to make us strong.
“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
– 2 Corinthians 12:9-10
God’s grace was given to us so we can have the safe space to be vulnerable with him about our sins yet still be transformed for the better. Vulnerability is the only road to deeper relationships so let’s instill this truth in our children so they learn to be courageously authentic and furiously loving.
Eugene K. Choi is a talent activation coach who helps individuals discover real breakthroughs in their lives by finding the zone where their passions and talents intersect. You can download his free guide, Four Steps to Instantly Jump Start Your Best Life Ever for practical methods to connect with your calling.