“Social situations can impoverish real-life opportunities to satisfy certain needs, and the media can serve as substitutes or supplements.” – Mass Communication Theory
I have been in the most amazing media theory class this semester. The professor is awesome and the information is quite interesting. This week we were studying use and gratification theories and the above quote really made me think about the difficulties people have with real-life interactions and relationships in our current society.
Though the invent of social media, dating sites, and broader interaction in the world around us is awesome we seem to be at a place where moving from online relationships to real-life is a challenge for most. In fact many young people today have a lot of trouble actually interacting without the buffer of electronics and media. We can see this having an effect on peoples relationships with friends and with romantic partners. Lets take a look at both of these, starting with friendships and moving toward the more intimate relationships.
There was a time when people in a community would gather to talk, play interactive board games , card games or enjoy active activities together. In our modern day and age we rarely get together face to face anymore. When we do it is to go to a movie, play a video game, or interact over other technology. Though these activities are enjoyable, as a society we are losing something of actual human interaction. We now spend time with our friends and community in a such a way that we do not really get to know anyone. We do not know what they are like past our common entertainment preferences. We do not learn their hopes and dreams, or their fears and anxieties. We keep everything on the surface pretending to be some type of invincible and feeling shame if we show any fault. I believe this leads to the issues of not being able to count on our friends. We don’t know how to handle it if somethings happen that breaks through this facade. If this is true with our friends and acquaintances it is even more so with what should be our most intimate relationships.
With the advent of online dating sites and a lifestyle that does not encourage face to face activities to meet a potential mate we can see the impoverishment of real-life opportunities abound. When we meet people online it is easy to present only what we want them to see. We give them what we want them to know and what we think will give the best impression. Think creative camera angles so to speak. Then after time passes and the other person actually wants to spend time together we don’t know what to do. Many are awkward with real-life interactions or paralyzed with fears of rejection or being found lacking in some area that they exaggerated, or in some cases have to admit that everything was a lie and they may not have even used their real name.
With such a lack of intimacy and true understanding in our interactions is it any wonder so many people fall pray to trying to fill their need for closeness and acceptance through media? Unfortunately what results instead are flings, one night stands, porn addictions, romance novels and a plethora of other stand ins for real relationships. All of these things are but empty shells of the thing people are really looking for and really need from their interactions. Like an empty shell the interactions that do occur on this level leave individual feeling hollow still missing the love, tenderness and compassion they desire. A porn video won’t bring you soup when you are sick, a romance novel can not hold you when you cry, a fling will not give you security and love. These things will not cherish you, help you reach your goals, overcome your fears or be there for you when you are down.
When faced with a chance for something real we get scared, we run away and we hide from the reality of a chance at everything we want and cling to the substitute that we are familiar with. We hold on to it so tight that we ruin our connections with real live human beings. We let our fear of vulnerability hold us back from making those connections and taking the risk that someone might love and care for the real us.In the end many cause so much fear and loneliness for themselves and in some cases pain to those who do care for them. We have to start asking ourselves if we are hiding from what is real and clinging to a substitute, a shadow of what we truly desire and need.