Homebody Social Health: How to Have a Healthy Social Life without Social Media
by Graeme Sime, myHomeBody Staff |
There are certain stereotypes that homebodies are supposed to fit into.
First is the millennial urban homebody. They’re probably introverts. They’re probably uncomfortable at parties, or in crowds of any kind, unless they’re anonymous. They most likely don’t exercise much. They probably have an alter ego that they project online through social media channels that represents them as they wish they were. A subsection of these are avid online gamers, where the alter ego development takes on extra vivid layers.
Another homebody profile is the upper middle class or wealthy, house-proud, Martha Stewart / Joana Gaines type homebody. They project homebody life as a utopian ideal, where everything that one truly longs for can be attained; where a near Zen-like transcendent state can be achieved through decorating, cooking, planning themed social gatherings, cleaning and organizing activities centered around your living space. These people light up the social channels like IG and Facebook with their proud creations and sanguine expressions about homebody life.
Of course, many people do exhibit some or all of these characteristics – fitting into the profiles more or less.
One reality that besets either and any type of homebody, is their overdependence on social media, and the limited way in which social media allows us to express ourselves to the world.
First let’s note the fact that with platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, every expression is to the world. That is not normal. If you think about the roots of our species, we formed villages – families and concentric rings of relatives and friends numbering in the hundreds, or several thousand tops. We are simply not designed to speak to the whole world at once, and moreover, for the potential response that entails.
What happens when millions of people, the vast majority of which we don’t know, can love us or hate us at the click of a mouse or a swipe of a smartphone? The modern word for this phenomenon of mass attention is fame, and many crave it, or think they do – but one thing I’m sure of, is we’re not designed for it. This kind of voluntary mass exposure skews the way we really are, even if we think we’re being genuine. It’s so much riskier to say the truth to a billion people than it is to one, that it’s inevitable that we will construct our expressions in a manner that is ore or less affected. We are not REALLY interacting as our authentic selves. Is that healthy social interaction? I suppose arguments could be made on either side. Maybe I just think too much, but for me it has always seemed scary.
The second issue with social media, is its brevity. You only get a short time, a fleeting chance, to catch those millions, or billions of eyes, and thus secure that little slice of fame you are chasing. Twitter has character limits; IG compresses a thousand words into a picture (sometimes it’s worth it perhaps!) and snapchat just disappears forever after a day. How can we have healthy social interaction with others when there is literally a cacophony of millions of virtual voices shooting sound bites into the ether in the hopes of being liked, hearted or retweeted?
So, my beefs with the popular social media channels are that they are both too broad and too short. They often engender the kinds of social behavior I abhor. Trolling, fake adulation, viciousness. I usually just decide not to play.
What people need more than ever in this day and age of frenzied attention seeking, is to slow down. Perhaps, I was thinking, this was one of the few positive side effects of the terrible pandemic that has forced so many to hunker down at home. Everyone is forced to slow down, spend time with family, and remember the warmth and simple comforts of home.
However, internet use has skyrocketed, so while our bodies may be getting more rest, it seems our social minds are whizzing along at an even more frenetic pace than ever!
If you’re in sync with me here, even a little, in feeling that this modern form of interaction may not be the best for our emotional and spiritual health, you may be wondering how to not be totally isolated, or (worse?) forced into exclusively interacting with immediate family!
What to do, what to do. Well, what did they do in the old days before IG, smartphones or even email? They wrote letters! Sit down with a pen and paper and take the time (time that many of us have more of at the moment) and write a letter to someone you haven’t REALLY communicated with in a while. It could be someone you love, like or appreciate deeply but, due to being caught by life and by the ephemeral nature of the contacts we usually have with people nowadays. You’ll be taken aback by how much it will mean to that person to receive such a rare treasure, and you can be sure it will be cherished. What a great thing to heal yourself through slow, careful and untruncated expression, while bringing genuine joy to another may be an even more powerful reward.
Once you’ve wet your ... pen, by writing to one or a few of the people who mean most to you, why not continue this flight of unfettered communication by meeting some new people from around the world who have similar longings? They call them pen pals. Remember them? Anyone?
Well, recently I heard about an app that helps you do just this, and it was so refreshing that I decided to write this a soon as I downloaded it to my iPhone. It’s called Slowly. In a way it represents everything I long for in communication and self-expression, and the solution to everything I hate about “fast social media”.
It combines the speed and convenience of a smart phone app with the meaning-laden expectancy that comes with both the sending of letters and wondering when it will be received and read and what reaction it will elicit, and then the slow giddiness of waiting for a letter to arrive to you!
To simulate the authentic letter sending of yesteryear, the letters reach their intended destination according to how far away the person lives that you’re sending to. You collect stamps when you correspond with people in different countries.
Slowly is NOT a dating app – no swiping! It gives you the chance to create and foster legitimate, meaningful relationships, and build genuine bonds across borders regardless of what internet social faction you may have belonged to.
For me it seems like just the thing to get me out of the social funk I’ve found myself in over the last year or so. I’ve created my profile (even that part had me feeling liberated to be more of myself than I ordinarily would filling out a regular social media or dating profile), and I’m waiting for my first letter to arrive.
While I won’t share the details (sorry, that’s personal) I will let you know how the journey goes. If this sounds like something that could do YOU some good, dear homebodies, find out more at the Slowly website. Happy penning!