Transcending the Superficial
The ubiquity of social media makes private moments with true friends all the more special
After pulling out of my driveway and heading to work, I often see them walking in pairs, briskly, happily, arms gesturing to punctuate a point, deeply pleased with the chance to share a summer morning and the details of a complicated life. I see them on this street, that corner, passing by the park, emerging from a coffee shop — smiling women dressed in running shoes and reveling in the comfort of true friendships, fully engaged in a live conversation for two.
And I am jealous. Those moments of selective sharing are the life diamonds that so many of us miss on a regular basis for so many different reasons — too many obligations, too little time. I have those shining moments, yes, but not often enough.
In an age of feigned public intimacy, where social media followers and friends think they know others merely because they commented on a photo of a child’s graduation or a beach party scene, not enough attention is paid to the unrehearsed private moments — the real connections that survive 10,000 clicks. It is the essence of those unpublic relationships that transcend the superficial and remind me of the sanctity of the “shares” we need to keep.
In May of this year, new statisitics revealed that across the globe 1.1 billion people are now Facebook users; 1 billion people use YouTube, where they sit through 4 billion views of videos each day. More than 500 million people trade characters and information on Twitter and 100 million share photos on Instagram. Yes, I use each of those services and share my own information both banal and profound, but I spill decidedly less information into the public sphere than most people, who I contend tell far too much to far too many.
I keep the good stuff for my real friends.
Sometimes it feels as if so many of us have relinquished the ability to restrain from broadcasting the minutiae of our lives that we forego a reverence for communicating in real time to a real confidante — a sibling, parent, spouse, partner or friend. Sharing an idea or a moment with a follower on Twitter will never replace the need to share a heartfelt notion with someone who knows me well. It’s about trust, the longevity of secrets well-kept and the drive to be understood. Really understood.
A like on Facebook doesn’t cut it.
Yes, it is seductive to log on at any time anywhere from any place and have access to the quips and quirky visuals from acquaintances new and old, far and near. It almost feels good. But sometimes even the sheer volume of accumulated messages and information diminishes their importance. If someone is telling everyone everything, how can it be so special? And how am I special if you tell everyone and anyone else?
You hardly hear the phrase, “Keep it to yourself” anymore, even if the acronym TMI (too much information) is long out of style. That is because the urge to instantly share information far and wide has supplanted the urge to edit or to selectively decide who knows what about whom.
I have three sisters, two brothers and a close collection of friends I have known for decades. We have history — stories and experiences layered over the years. I can tell them things I would not tell everyone. I am the receiver of secrets from many, including my sons. I do not betray confidences and I respect the immeasurable difference between what stays private and what gets live-streamed.
The phone in my office rarely rings. Instead I get hundreds and hundreds of emails each day from coworkers, friends and business associates who trade information and yes, sometimes secrets. A few times a day I log onto LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter and gather even more information from friends and acquaintances — sometimes so much is put in front of me that I retain nothing.
Call me old-fashioned, but during a busy work day when my words posted online may touch thousands of readers or listeners, I need more. I long for the fleeting moments — two friends laughing while walking together on a summer morning, sharing secrets no one else will hear.Edit Module