At first glance, I'm all for it! Less phones, less computers and more fun and family and friends? What isn't there to love? (In fact, my family re-discovered this fun by spending four hours relaxing at a nearby park this last Saturday!) In these last two weeks, though, I've been reminded of the reason I still love social media: the people behind the screen.
One of the biggest worries about technology is that it makes people value online connections over face-to-face conversations. "Who cares how many followers you have?" People say. "They're just numbers." Or: "An Instagram with only food? What's the point of that?"
The point isn't just the numbers or just the food, though I'll admit that I take pride in my growing army of Instagram followers and could spend hours scrolling and drooling over a never-ending column of gluten free goodies. The point is turning these numbers into people who connect over a love for food, a disease, or choosing a healthy lifestyle.
When I was hospitalized, Gluten Dude shared my story and hundreds of comments from people all over the world flooded my blog and his. When I post reviews for restaurants, celiacs from all over the US offer their own eating experiences, ask about the cooking protocol and share in the drool.
And when my boyfriend of almost two years and I broke up, my fellow foodies - those "numbers" on my Instagram - gave me advice, comfort and lots of love. I joked to my mom that many of my Instagram friends, young moms with a passion for food, initiated operation "Mother Hen." I couldn't be more grateful.
Because, through my friends online, I have access to a greater variety of tips, encouragement and understanding than found "in real life." My amazing roomie can drive two hours to lay in bed with me and talk until 2 am.
But my Instagram buddies can message me inspiring quotes I'd never heard of. They can reflect to their first break up - and give hope since they're now happily married.
They can make me feel like a world map is jumping out from my IPhone and wrapping me in a hug.
I'll never promote social media addiction or rejecting reality for a shiny computer or phone screen. At the same time, I'll never vilify the apps that fill my IPhone. As I adapt to my extra free time, experimenting with, taking pictures of and digitally sharing my food with others has transformed into one of my main stress relievers.
More than that, supporting others online as they have supported me makes me happy - and strong because I know I'm not alone. Maybe that's the second, deeper meaning of "connecting" with others through technology.
For those who only connect superficially with their tech tools - posting only the highlights of their life, focusing on the quantity and not quality of followers - a digital detox would likely be helpful. But for me?
|I see two lifelines in this photo: my NG tube and my computer!|
Participating online can be a lifeline to further support and friendship. And I wouldn't have it any other way.
What do you think of social media? Would you/have you ever done a digital detox? Comment below!