In the 21st century, we live in little boxes and drive little boxes and work in little boxes within little boxes. It is more important than ever that we find new ways to connect — even if that means using the little boxes we hold in our hands all day to do it. We can continue to stumble through our lives using social media as a mask to pretend our lives are perfect. Or to troll the Internet underbelly. To carefully craft personas. To be someone that we’re not. Or we can use it as its name declares: social media.
A synonym for “social” is “community,” itself defined by Google as “A feeling of fellowship with others.”
We cannot feel genuine fellowship if we aren’t real. Being real means vulnerability, sharing the parts of ourselves of which we are most ashamed. Shame is an emotion that comes from doing or thinking something we fear is unacceptable and will result in being shunned by the community. When someone accepts unacceptable parts of us, it brings us, all of us, ever closer.
I find tremendous hope in social media. On a macro level, in its ability to help us organize. On a micro level, in the elation we feel collectively when stories of survival go viral. In the pain we experience together when a beloved figure dies, or when grave injustices are committed. For all our differences, we are so much the same. And we cannot truly connect with each other if we aren’t vulnerable. Now more than ever, that connection is imperative. I believe it’s the secret to overcoming everything that lies ahead. In your life. In mine. In the country. And the world.