Actions Speak Louder: Being Genuinely Supportive in a Social Media Driven Society
We live in a society driven by social media in almost every way, shape, and form. And somehow, it’s become the norm to use these tools to show our sincere support for others. Convenience. We’re after the convenience of it. It’s really easy to wish someone a happy birthday when Facebook gives you a notification and it takes you less than 30 seconds to land on their wall and type “Happy Birthday!” Factor in predictive text and it might be even less time than that! Maybe this person is more important to you than a “Happy Birthday!” on their timeline and you decide to send them a virtual gift via Facebook messenger. Cash or gift cards or whatever else they have on that convenient feature. Stepping up your game aren’t you!
But is that the most genuinely supportive you can be with someone who you love and appreciate having in your life? Or is that “action” sending the message that this person is only worth 30 seconds of your time on their birthday? Maybe one minute of your time to actually send a virtual gift…
Obviously, a birthday is one of the few examples where this comes into play, but think about how often you actually speak to someone you love and tell them verbally, with your God-given voice, how much they mean to you. Social media has made things so convenient and easy for us to stay connected, but has it really? Or has it just made everything less meaningful?
It has created a facade that we are “connected” and in the loop with what our loved ones are up to, but we’re communicating less and less. Scrolling past someone’s photo update of their experiences and hitting “Like” is not actually being supportive. Maybe you comment with something like “Cute!”… which is marginally better than a “Like” but still not connected and supportive.
Let’s go back to the drawing board, because in this overly social media driven society, two things have happened. First, we’ve gotten away from how we used to connect with and support those that are important to us, and second we’ve also forgotten that words still hurt, even if they are typed on a screen. One too many people have taken a drink of the liquid courage that is sitting behind a computer screen. We’ve forgotten that “think before you speak” rule that we all learned as children. It’s human nature to want actual real connection that is personal and not words on a screen. So how do we do it when social media runs our world?
I really feel it’s about finding a balance. Is it okay to be falsely connected on Facebook? Sure. Some of your communication and support can happen via social media or text messages. I’m not saying to eliminate that completely, but make a general rule of still choosing to meet up for lunch or pick up the phone. Something that requires you to be fully present with the person you’re having a conversation with and then be fully present. If you truly care about someone, you should want to talk to them, hear their voice, spend some time with them. So make an effort.
Therefore, when you SAY (even on social media) that you want to get together for lunch, or that you will connect with someone in an offline manner, follow through with it. Don’t make them responsible for all the effort. This should go without saying, but all relationships are two sided and need to have equal amounts of give and take. Both parties have to be in it 100% or it’s not going to be a lasting relationship. When you say one thing and do the opposite, you’re really delivering a message that this person is unimportant to you. We’ve forgotten this very important piece, because social media makes it feel like we connect everyday, multiple times a day as we see each other’s status updates in our newsfeed. If you know you can’t deliver on something, don’t say it at all. If you know you can’t make time for a phone call that week, don’t tell them you’ll call them.
Actions have always spoken louder than words - this phrase is not new. But it’s getting increasingly harder with so many ways to use words to communicate to make your actions count. It takes a constant effort to think of how you can send a “message” offline. Maybe it’s through a thoughtful gift, maybe it’s a phone call, lunch date, or just dropping by their house with cookies. The ideas are endless, but the point is… make the effort, keep your word, and try whenever possible to take your connection offline.