TACKED THOUGHTS - Nancy Unchuan Toledo (The Freeman) - October 14, 2017 - 4:00pm

A year or two ago, a good friend of mine introduced me to the wonderfully liberating experience of unfollowing people on my Facebook newsfeed. It especially came in handy during the election season. There were days on end when I would feel especially agitated when some people on my friend list would post fake news or super-charged opinions. And sometimes it would ruin my mood or frustrate me far longer than was healthier. Then, I decided to unfollow them. No fuss. No drama. I just clicked the dropdown menu on the right hand side of their posts and unfollowed them. Most. Mature. Decision. Ever.

The thing was, it wasn’t just about unfollowing for political reasons too. I realized that I had a choice about how often and how much I wanted to be updated about other people’s lives. What I found out after several weeks was that there were several benefits to this: My disposition while online was far more positive, I was far less judgmental of others and I actually missed some people I unfollowed.

And I don’t mean that I missed their posts or their selfies; I genuinely missed having conversations with them. I realize now that seeing people on social media, without really interacting with them, gave me a false sense of having a meaningful relationship with them. I mistook seeing their posts for being updated about their lives. I assumed that sharing likes meant the same as opening up. And that writing hahaha’s on their timelines felt as good as actually laughing out loud.

Apparently, there is as much danger in being too connected as there is in being disconnected. Or maybe the danger is in having a false sense of connection. Don’t get me wrong. I am not against social media. And not all my interactions online are shallow or superficial. I do actually use it to connect with people who are not physically present. And I still believe its benefits far outweigh its dangers.

But I also think that unless I become very aware of myself and of how I interact with others online, I run the risk of being more influenced by social media than me influencing it with my presence.  And that instead of complementing the priceless face-to-face interactions with others, it might actually replace it.

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