And we compare ourselves to what we believe is an accurate representation of what others are doing, how they look, feel, what they have accomplished.
The inherent loss of privacy, even when chosen, is something clients are actively working to manage now.
In a culture that is increasingly used to immediate gratification, many of us simply do not possess that willpower or strength. So you write, and what you write makes a lot of sense and feels very justified at the time. In this way we are at the very least acting from a calm, grounded place, minimizing the potential for the regret that can come when we reach out from a place of temporary emotional intensity.
It is often only after our message has landed with its recipient and we being to process their own potentially impulsive or strong response do you begin to see how what you wrote could be interpreted in a variety of ways. And so begins the potential for misunderstanding and regret, producing feelings within us quite the opposite of what we had originally hoped to achieve. Embedded into my exploration of the written word through modern technology but also extending far beyond it is the impact of broader social media.
Positive responses will give the poster an (albeit brief) feeling of not being so alone, the idea that what they have to say or what they have experienced, no matter how small, matters. But does it also make us all a little more reflective, even introspective, yes?
Never before have our comings and goings been so public and yet so tailored, the micro-moments of our everyday life shared to elicit whatever response is craved at the time. We can scroll back over days, weeks, and years and feel sharply our own chronology in a way that even the most devoted of journal keepers often can’t because we see not only our own thoughts conversations, photographs, and the reactions of those who were in our lives at the times. We share what we love, what we are passionate about, what angers or devastates us.
We are still, as a culture, relative infants when it comes to our use of technology and our understanding of its long-term impacts.
There is no doubt that the widespread availability and use of technology in all its manifestations has changed our world and the way we relate in faster and more dramatic ways than other inventions in the past.
In this column, I set out to describe and explore the many ways as a therapist I see technology and particularly social media impacting the lives and particularly the relationships of my clients.
And in doing so, many are breaking open the door to a part of us that previously had no or very limited access.
The part of us that was privately processing things on our own.
Death now is broadcast frequently on Facebook and clients often find themselves feeling unprepared to receive such information in an impersonal way.
It is common then to immediately rely on the built-in net of the comfort and consolation that can come with processing such news publicly with others who are also experiencing it in real time.