False Intimacy & Social Media

This week I wanted to talk about intimacy, both real and perceived. In this first post I will focus on the concept of false intimacy and how social media plays a role.

Over the summer I had my first unwanted experience with someone I met online. No, this was not a romantic encounter! This was someone I initially met through blogging and who I eventually met in person. This person used social media to “connect” with me. They would facebook, Tweet, text, call and communicate with me here on my blog.

At first I just chalked it up to this person being a little overly active with social media.But when they sought me out in person and continually reached out via electronic communication to “connect” with me, I realized I had a problem on my hands.

It became apparent to me that this person had overly identified with me through the things I had shared on my blog and facebook. This “relationship” was not reciprocal.

I had very little personal knowledge of this person and yet they spoke of how deeply I had impacted their life and how close and “connected” they felt to me. As I put the pieces together it dawned on me, this was not healthy behavior.

We live in a world of instant connection. Thanks to innovators like Steve Jobs, we have devices that allow us to speak, text, email, chat, tweet and more at the touch of a button.

We can publish our inner most thoughts and feelings in a Blog, share our funniest or most embarrassing experiences on YouTube and communicate with friends and family all over the world in real time courtesy of social media like Twitter and Facebook.

While this makes life easier and better in some respects, it has also made things much more complicated and convoluted. Social media has done amazing things in creating community, communication and thought provoking dialogue. It has also helped to create a false sense of intimacy.

How exactly?

Social media allows for several things to happen.
1. We can create our own image or public persona. This is not always an accurate portrayal of who we are and leads others to believe we are someone we are not.
2. It allows us to become voyeuristic by peering into others lives and being an observer rather than a participant.
3. Creates relationships that are one – sided based on knowing things about someone versus firsthand knowledge and experience.

Don’t get me wrong here, I love social media and believe it is here to stay, but I have had to rethink my strategy and how I engage with others online.

I have met many people online that challenge and encourage me in my walk with the Lord and I am so thankful for them. I have also encountered people who frankly creep me out and make me want to delete my facebook page!

I believe the key in using social media is discernment. As my experience this summer has taught me, reading about a persons thoughts, feelings or experiences in a blog does not equal a relationship.

Be careful as you navigate in and among social media. Guard your heart always, for it is the wellspring of life.

Stop by the couch on Friday, as I’ll tackle real intimacy as it relates to social media and the development of online relationships.

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10 thoughts on “False Intimacy & Social Media

  1. Caryn Suehowicz says:

    I can totally relate to this and in personal, real-time relationships as well. The relationships that seem to grow immediately, based on a false sense of intimacy on the part of one or even both of the people. Sometimes we need connection with life so badly, we’ll throw all our most secret thoughts out onto someone else, sharing too much intimate information before a foundation of friendship is set up. Just reminds me, we all have a desire to be intimate and that desire God places in our hearts for only Him to fulfill perfectly!

    • KAREN COOK says:

      Well said Caryn! So true – in our attempts to get our needs met we often give our hearts away before knowing if it is truly safe to do so….I’ve been there done that – and the outcome is usually not a good one! So glad you stopped by today – when are we going to have that coffee date?

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