Are you socially connected or alienated?
The world of ‘social’ seems to be super hot. A recent statistic indicated that a new social app is released every week. According to a recent Statista analysis, market leader Facebook was the first social network to surpass one billion registered accounts and currently sits at 1.59 billion monthly active users. Eighth-ranked photo-sharing app, Instagram, has over 400 million monthly active accounts, while blogging service Tumblr has more than 555 million active bloggers.
What the above statistics seem to tell us is that these networks are for extroverts and people who want others to know what is happening in their lives. What about people who are introverts but want to connect one to one with their friends instead of connecting one to many? What do they look for?
Social media applications and networks love me. I am this guy with a large friends circle, and extremely responsive and active in these networks. In fact, these have helped me to get in touch with friends and classmates with whom I had lost touch. I know where they have vacationed, how they live, how their kids are growing up, what they like to eat, etc. But do I really have an ‘emotional connect’ with them? Do the one too many social networks really connect you to your friends?
Well that’s my theory in the Venn diagram of acquaintances and friends. The convergence is basically an emotional platform that differentiates ‘acquaintances’ from friends with whom we want to have a real ‘connect’ with.
I know what you are thinking when I say ‘emotional connect’. Is it a wailing wall or an area where laughs can be freely exchanged or where you can rant away all your frustrations? No, that’s not what I am referring to. Rather, emotional connect is the wish or feeling that a particular friend was there with you (at that moment) when doing something or when you hear a song that makes you remember someone who drove you mad by humming the same tune tunelessly. It’s about one-to-one connect, as opposed to one to many. It’s also a space where introverts feel comfortable to interact and be part of. It’s where you don’t need to be worried about who is judging you, or what opinion people have developed looking at your public social profile.
Let me narrate my own experience. This is something that I have consciously cultivated over the last 10 years. Bangalore is known for its IT industry, cool people and snarling traffic jams. Working in the most congested part of the city, my commute to work is at least four to five hours every day. While being driven to work, I look at my phonebook and call the people I remember whose name starts with a particular letter of the alphabet. Let me explain – Monday I would call people whose name starts with A, but only those who come to mind. This means I am thinking of them because something I saw, did or remembered made me think of them. This is what I call ‘emotional connect’. With these friends, I don’t rant, crib or be hypocritical. I just tell them what reminded me of them. This makes not just my day but also theirs.
The most popular social apps seldom help people make new friends. Rather they just provide a platform on which existing friendships can grow and flourish. It can help you to know someone better or it can be a glorified rolodesk (which is extinct). So you can choose: do you want an emotional aka “real” connect or do you want a one-way ticket to living alone with a gang of cool cats?
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)