social networking

2. Can Social Media Help You To Find Friends?

‘Wishing to be friends is quick work,

But friendship is a slow-ripening fruit.’ – Aristotle

We’d all like more friends, but does social media create the sort of online friendship that can develop into an in-person friendship?

Or is social media just a glorified gossip forum about people we know, sort-of know, don’t know at all or would like to get to know but can’t?

Or, do we like to acknowledge its existence but keep it at arms length because we instinctively know that without it, we’d feel much lonelier? 

Does acknowledging what other people are saying and doing through social media alleviate social isolation? Or does it feign friendship by forcing us to engage with it?

Who Uses Social Media?

It’s not just the domain of young people anymore, social media can help build online connections that would otherwise be impossible. So social networking can save time by allowing us to connect with people who are faraway and who we are unlikely to meet in our everyday lives. Social networking services such as Facebook, Instagram and Linked-In help to provide valuable information about ‘what’s out there’ and ‘who’s out there.’ 

But how did social media come to be the domain of the young in the first place? Why do we live in such an ageist society when older people are living longer? Why does there seem to be a role reversal where older people are learning from younger people whereas it used to be the other way around – when older people used to be regarded by the young as wise? Why have the young embraced technology in a way that their parents haven’t? 

It world seem that the world has divided into two, maybe three types of people:

A/ Pre-internet Users. (People who have never grasped the internet and perhaps never will and are cautious of it). This group tend to be older.

B/ Internet Users. (People who have been brought up with the internet and accept it). This group tends to be younger.

C/ Perhaps there’s a 3rd category of Users? People who know both – the internet and life without it. This group tend to be smarter.

Is social media impacting our lives similarly to how group A/ coped with the advent of television when it was in its infancy? Television was deemed bad if you watched too much of it, but now everyone is binging Netflix. So if it’s possible for television to change to suit viewer appetites.  Perhaps it’s also possible for social media to change to suit User appetites. Then perhaps over time like television, social media will mould to our requirements whereas presently it feels more like we’re being changed to suit its requirements. 

Or perhaps it simply comes down to our usage? Too much screen time can develop couch potato habits. But if we’re mindful of how we use our screen time i.e. social media, then it may just impact our lives in a positive way and become a useful leisure time activity just like television.

Some Social Media Positives

1/ Social media can connect people in a way that would otherwise be impossible as it can overcome barriers of distance and time. It allows people to connect and re-connect thereby expanding interactions and networks.

2/ You can use social media to spread positive messages about your organisation or business.

3/ You can use social media to tell human stories by using video, photos and a narrative. 

4/ Social Media is good for making friends and connecting with family.

5/ Managed social media programs can help young adults achieve better outcomes at school.

Seen The Social Dilemma? It features Facebook execs questioning their faith in Facebook. According to this documentary, Facebook has developed into a needy digital conundrum. It posed some interesting questions around social media where there seems to be more negatives than positives associated with its usage.

One of the debates around Facebook in The Social Dilemma stemmed from how Facebook drew people in by constantly engaging with them. You can’t just put FB away for another day. It’s like a baby that never stops crying – it demands your attention. And by demanding your attention it creates an addiction of sorts.

Perhaps it draws you in, in the same way that a good drama with good actors does. We all know that actors are playing a part but sometimes as we know them only as their character, we feel that we know them, when in actual fact we don’t. If only they weren’t so convincing! 

A profile photo (if that’s all you have to go on) can be quite alluring. But the reality is you’ve become friends with a profile photo and some text. If you put it like that then it certainly loses its gloss. So how is it that human beings can lull themselves into a false sense of reality and kid themselves that something is real when it’s not?

Is it suspended disbelief? Whatever it is, it seems like we want to believe that what’s not in fact real – IS. And just because we believe in something it doesn’t make it true. So who defines what’s true and what isn’t? That is the question.

It would seem that the in order to believe something is true, a statement must come from a higher authority and then it is more likely to be deemed as true, that is until it’s found out not to be. And in order to not question truth, we must fear the outcome of truth.

For instance, if Facebook says staying connected to your online community is a good thing, then we tend to do it, because the fear of finding out that it’s not a good thing risks being rejected by the community and ending up alone.

Social Media Negatives

1/  Cyber-bullying by individuals known and unknown to us. Because the use of technology by individuals goes largely unchecked, an unflattering image or hurtful message sent by one  individual about another individual without their approval can be shared many times across the internet. This is known as cyberbullying.

2/  FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) is a social anxiety associated with wanting to know what others are doing. 

3/  Social media can contribute to unrealistic expectations and friendships. Sometimes just because you’ve made an online connection with someone and regard them as a friend, it doesn’t mean that they also want to be friends back with you. Generally speaking, it takes time to develop a friendship and unrealistic expectations or hopes of how a friend should treat you can kill the relationship from developing any further.

4/  Social media can contribute to a negative body image, low-esteem and lack of confidence.

Discovering what you deem as a higher authority like your friends on Facebook and that they may be critical of someone’s body image may impact your thoughts about your own body image.

5/  Social media never sleeps (and doesn’t allow us to) so therefore it can contribute to an unhealthy sleep pattern. Waiting for that message, reply or comment or how the comments we may have sent can contribute to a broken sleep pattern where checking our phones becomes habitual.

6/ It can result in comparative behaviour which can result in low self-esteem and lack of self-confidence. Constantly comparing yourself to impossible images, ideals or even good deeds can result in feelings of inadequacy. 

7/ It can make individuals seek out social rewards for egotistical reasons rather than genuine acts of kindness and consideration. Being seen to be ‘doing the right thing’ by performing a good deed so you look good on your facebook page (eg posting a selfie with the person you are helping) could possibly backfire and be seen by people as fake intent rather than doing good. 

8/ It can make us place our faith in total strangers that may do us harm. This is an obvious one. People are very capable of telling lies on social media as they are never held accountable. They manipulate you into trusting them and it may result in you doing something that you may not have wanted to. 

9/ Social media behaviour can be tracked and analysed to influence behaviour. As social media in general is free for users, this provides an unregulated network where corporations have uncontrolled and free reign over how your data may be used.  

10/ Social media usage can be tracked to sell advertising back to individuals. This is how social media organisations make money. Your behaviour online indicates what you are interested in and in this way, social media organisations can see where you spend your money and then place ads around where you go online. 

11/ It can strip away individual freedoms and privacy by going unchecked and unanswerable to a higher authority. 

All of the points above can impact us negatively if we use social media, so then why do we use it?

It would seem that a combination of a feeling of increased self-isolation without it and convenience may provide some answers. For almost the same reasons that social media can negatively impact our lives it can also positively impact our lives, but it seems there is a fine line between social media having a positive impact and a negative impact.

Does social media make us feel less lonely?

It is a basic human need to feel inclusive and welcome – to be accepted. With all of us living increasingly isolated lives especially in 2020, our online usage has increased, so how does it make us feel less lonely? 

Like having the radio or television playing in the background, social media plays a part in making us feel less isolated by connecting us with other humans that we may not even know.

It seems to be a human phenomenon that the thought of other people like us existing in the world gives us hope and by connecting with others we feel less alone.

Feeling included in a dialogue or community is how we feel less isolated and valued as humans. Although much of the time these interactions may be with people we haven’t met, they can still give us hope – hope that there are people out there just like us and that we are not alone. 

Does social media make us feel more lonely?

It would seem that there is a fine line between social media impacting our lives in a good way (making us feel inclusive and not alone when its at its best) and making us feel feel more lonely and less worthy.

Over usage (the very thing that Facebook and other social networking services encourage us to do more of by altering algorithms) can in fact make us (by doing more of it) less happy and ultimately more lonely. 

But how does this come about?

There may come a point where even online friendships have to go somewhere – grow and develop in order to feel that they are of any value. But where do they go?

If you know someone previous to knowing them online then that is a slightly different scenario, but if you know someone from only knowing them online, then it would seem inevitable that one day you should meet or carry on that relationship into the off-line or real world in order to continue and grow the relationship.

If this is not possible, or someone does not feel any need to develop the relationship further then this could lead to an increased sense of isolation as it could be interpreted as rejection.

Certainly the ability to ‘ghost’ people that previously you remained in contact with can lead to feeling hurt and disappointed.

The cruel thing about ghosting is that it leaves no room for discussion and provides no explanation as to what may have gone wrong. It throws doubt into the mind of the ghosted about what they may have done in order to be left ‘hung out to dry’.

One may begin to doubts one’s actions, but if you think you’ve done nothing wrong or have done nothing to warrant being ghosted, then it may damage your confidence and self-esteem. 

Is a ‘real need’ necessary in order to meet your online friends in the offline world?

So you’ve lost your cat or phone or wallet and now you must meet the person who has found them? That’s a real need – something you can’t avoid like an essential thing you require in order to live your life. Something where you are sort of forced to take an action. You’d like that job. So yes, you will have to attend the interview. 

But what if there’s no real need to meet someone other than to become friends? Is that a real need? Probably not. A particular friend isn’t necessary in order to keep living your life. This makes it much more difficult to step onto The Bridge of friendship to make the effort to go and meet with that particular person.

This may seem to be the main difficulty with online friendships is that at some point they need to develop into ‘real’ friendships in order to continue to grow and the only way to do this is to ‘meet the person.’ 

But in taking these steps at the risk of a meeting being awkward or being ghosted or rejected will at the very least signal to you whether that friendship was really ever a possibility in the first place. As they say:

‘The journey is just as important as the destination.’

social networking

1. Unbeautiful: How A Vlog Can Help You Find Friends

‘Be your own kind of beautiful.’

                           – Anonymous

Not everyone can be beautiful, but we can all be un-beautiful (even the beautiful), which is best described as ‘inner beauty,’ or being ‘true to yourself,’ or being genuine whether you’re beautiful or not.

So what is an unbeautiful vlog and how can it help you find friends?

An unbeautiful vlog is not photoshopped or digitally enhanced in any way and shows that you are genuine and that you are who you claim to be. When online it provides a level of trust as other people can see you for who you are.

‘It’s not easy being green’ as Kermit the Frog once sang. If we have straight hair we think we’d look better with wavy hair. Even supermodels are critical of their own look and are very seldom content with all of their features. So perhaps if we’re so discontented with our natural assets and so afraid that others might judge us by them, it would make sense (if our intention was to show that image online) to enhance how we look before we uploaded it.

And herein lies the problem. 

It’s easy to erase a wrinkle here or make a mole disappear there when using an online photo editor. But if we’re all altering our images, then we’re going to become unrecognisably perfect – in a way that our edited image and our original image (before editing) will look nothing alike.

In a way, we’re erasing our identity, so that no one will see us. If you’re transitioning from the online world into the offline (real) world, how will the friends you make online ever recognise you if you look nothing like the edited image you just uploaded?

We apparently become more satisfied with our self-image and our self-esteem improves as we get older. So why does everyone have such an issue with getting old then? Why is being ‘authentic’ so important now? Is it because it’s so easy to fake who we really are online? 

We’re constantly fed images of beauty that for many of us are impossible to replicate. For the most part, it seems to be about promoting a concept in order to sell a product. The age in which we live where ‘The Influencer’ is paid to promote a product or service certainly reinforces this. But beauty and being able to afford beauty products are also seen as a sign of success and ‘success and beauty’ combined, deliver a ‘one two punch’.

As a consequence young adults are feeling so much pressure to look a certain way (as it’s deemed that this is necessary in order to be successful) that they now feel that the only acceptable image of themselves is a photoshopped image. Feeling discontented with our self-image seems to have reached epidemic proportions, so what can we do about it? And, do we have to look a certain way in order to find friends?

Should we be constantly living up to what is perceived to be beautiful or more accepting of the concept that: ‘Beauty is in the eye of the beholder?’

Or, should we be focusing less on physical appearance and more on character and achievements? 

Is being unbeautiful a better way of being if it means ‘being being genuine?’

What Is Beauty?

There are many different concepts of what comprises beauty but it seems to mean different things to different people. So why then do people feel the need to look a certain way?

It would seem that the idea of beauty is constantly being re-defined, so who or what then is responsible for defining what beauty is? Is it science and evolution and the sum of our genes? Is it celebrity that defines and redefines beauty? Is it magazines and tabloids? Or could it be that we define beauty by success?

Successful people seem to be able to afford to enhance their beauty by paying for cosmetic procedures or affording hair and make-up or by including a gym in their homes. Is having good health beauty? Or are we taking on the look of androids with smooth unwrinkled skin and mask like faces? Is the concept of what beautiful is, actually in reality being defined more by the surgeons scalpel or the beautician’s wand? 

By and large it would seem that humans have access to more physique enhancing products and services than ever before. But then why do we want to look younger if it’s been scientifically proven that we get happier as we age. Are we happy to be unhappy so long as we’re beautiful?

It would seem that we are and that how we look is everything. If we’re improving ourselves so much, then why is accepting ourselves as we are and the way we look becoming more and more difficult? Why do some people who really aren’t very good looking seem to be happier with their looks and happier in general than some people who are very good looking?

Looking good never seemed so important. In a media saturated world full of stunning images is it any surprise then that when we take a look at our own image we look at ourselves with a very discerning and critical eye and decide what needs improving?

We seem to be constantly comparing ourselves to ‘the beautiful people’ out there in print media and on social media and in the image saturated digital world, so can we really be blamed for feeling justified in subjecting that image of ourselves to a little photoshopping? They do it, so why can’t we?

Edited Images

Smooth away that mole, freckle or wrinkle. Do away with those frown lines or jowls. I wanna be perr-fect. The good news is that you can be without even having to go ‘under the knife’ your online image can look pretty much perfect with just a few clicks and the right application.

The celebs do it, tabloids do it – pretty much everyone in print does it including men’s and women’s fashion mags, so it’s ok, isn’t it? Of course it is. But is it going to make you feel better about yourself? Maybe not.

If you receive the wrong sort of attention from people who say: ‘Look, she’s photoshopped.’ Is that the sort of attention you were seeking? Or if someone says: ‘Hey, I can barely recognise you from your photo.’ Is that the image you wanted to portray? Perhaps it is. To people who don’t know you though, they’re going to think you look great. Right? So you’re going to look great – to strangers? Is that really what you wanted? To look great to the people you don’t know? Wonder what that does for your self-esteem. If you were trying to attract fans, this might work. But if you have to front – in person, is this really going to work for you? Probably not. 

If you’ve edited a photo that you’re using as a profile photo online and then have to upload a vlog to verify who you are, then the two are going to look very different. Then, if you also have to front, then you’re going to look like you do in your vlog not your profile photo. Did you really want to shock someone with the real you? Probably best to have a profile photo and vlog in the same (visual) ball park.

So let’s start with your vlog. If you want to look good in your vlog, then enhancing your image by using an online editor isn’t going to help you. That’s right. It won’t matter a jot. You’re better off treating yourself like a celeb might by, investing in some good lighting, make-up and hair. Because that’s what they do. Maybe even a decent camera operator (or as the case is more likely to be – a friend who can video your vlog on your phone’s camera).

Your vlog is going to tell the viewer very quickly what you’re really like and in this way offer a truer representation of you than a photo. So would you want your profile photo to look wildly different to your vlog? Doubt it. Ideally, you want them to look a little similar. So how can you look your best? 

The first thing to remember is that you can update your vlog at any time. If you can look good without looking like you’ve gone to too much trouble, then all credit to you. Making it all look so effortless makes you seem natural. And natural is nice. But don’t worry if you can’t, the old saying: ‘The camera doesn’t lie,’ is not quite so, otherwise Spielberg wouldn’t be as rich as he is. The camera very seldom picks up that you’ve slapped on the makeup if the lighting is right. So here are a few helpful hints.

  • tidy hair 
  • a little make-up (you’d have to be very heavy handed with the make-up to make it look too much in your vlog).
  • great lighting is good. Experiment a little with the light in the room by standing in different spots.

And make sure you wear the most important thing of all – a smile. Some people can’t do it. They simply can’t smile. So do it. No. DO IT! If you have to practice smiling, do it. You may not be aware, but a smile is more than stretched lips and gleaming white teeth. What a smile does, is let people know that you’re not socially awkward, that you are well adjusted and that you’re friendly, approachable and relaxed. 

What’s Up With The Young?

Time and time again, we hear from our elders. ‘You have more opportunity, more freedom, more education and more everything – including money, than I ever had at your age. So what’s your problem?’ Gee, younger people sound ungrateful at best. So, what’s up with the young? Are they just shirkers? Or could they be feeling the sort of pressure and stress older people never experienced?

You can’t really argue with older people because they’re, well, older – and they assume authority because of this. They also may have experienced war and no-one can argue with that. So we have to respect what they have to say. But how are young people really feeling?

Older people tend to think ‘build a bridge and get over it’ you’re young. You have it all. But do they? It would seem that young people are feeling overwhelmed by the world they’ve inherited from, well, older people. The pressure to succeed in this world is leaving many young adults unable to cope.

If you think about the pressure young adults might feel just to look good. Then you might start to understand the world they inhabit. Monetarily it can be difficult. It’s getting harder to get that part-time well-paid job to pay for stuff. To look good, you may even have to be seen by others to have what it takes in the way of:

  • Latest mobile phone (what young person doesn’t want the latest technology?) It’s become their life (just try and separate a young person from their phone). Don’t argue. Of course they need to keep up with the latest trends, otherwise their friends might ‘ghost’ them. Life is cruel.
  • A gym membership. Yes, you need to stay fit even when you’re young, so you can tone up and look good with a tattoo? Surely not.
  • Assume the air of having the means to afford travel. Everyone wants to rave about where they’ve just holiday’d – even the young. You definitely need to brag about ‘how you got sick’ whilst you were overseas (but got over it) to make people feel sorry for you and prove that you’re incredible. Just like on Survivor. 

So looking good seems to be important, right? The pressure to succeed, conform to an ideal body image, even world events are impacting not just young people but people the world over. Are these types of feelings making us feel inadequate in a way that makes us reject the way we look and reach for the photo editor? Feeling like you don’t stack up in the scheme of things and if you hate your body, hate yourself, being fearful and anxious and feeling that your image – the way that it is – will never be acceptable to others, may have you reaching for the photo editor and may mean you are suffering from low self-esteem. So how do we can we feel good about ourselves?

How To Feel Happy-er

Whether we’re honest about it or not, whether we know it or not, whether we can actually achieve a state of inner peace and happiness or not – we all strive to be happy. But how do we get there?

Here are a few suggestions that can may make you feel happier but take note, none of them mention being beautiful-er, rich-er or more successful:

1/ Be active. Exercising a little each day can counter depression and help you to relax. It can improve cognitive ability which can improve body image. And the good news? Whether you lose weight or not doesn’t come into it.

2/ Get adequate sleep. Getting enough sleep will not only help to keep your weight in check, but it will reduce depression, increase focus and make you more productive. Sleep is essential to a feeling of well-being and is restorative.

3/ Make Your Commute to work shorter. A short commute to work is better than a big house. Long commutes and sitting in traffic does not make us happy.

4/ Increase Social Time With Friends And Family. Even for introverts more time spent being social and with family improves our feeling of well being. 

‘The only thing that really matters in life are your relationships to other people.’ – George Valliant.

5/ Spend time in the fresh air. Take time to smell the roses. Apparently going outside on a nice day boosts positive mood but also improves memory. They say, happiness is maximised at 13.9 degrees.

6/ Give Back. Help others 2 hours a week. You’ll find that it may enrich your life and in return you’ll feel happier.

7/ Practice ‘real’ Smiling. As we suggest for your vlog – smile. If you find it difficult to smile – practice. But cultivate a positive thought first, don’t fake smile. There’s a difference. A smile that uses your eye sockets is one that is real. To produce a ‘real’ smile think of something that makes you really happy like for instance a funny cat video or a trip away somewhere. You’ll find that you withdraw less, become more successful and live longer. Smiling reinforces feelings of joy.

5 Tips To Video A Simple Selfie Vlog On Your Smartphone

If you’re thinking that you’d like to create a brief selfie/vlog to find online friends at 5050Cafefriends and you’d like to come across as being genuine which would also bode well for an in person meeting in real life, then here are a few tips:

1/ Use a selfie stick (this way you can move your phone a little further away and be in control of how your vlog looks).

2/ Don’t stand with a window behind you otherwise you’ll be silhouetted. 

3/ Look at the camera/phone lens rather than look at the picture of yourself. That way it will seem like you’re looking at the person watching your vlog.

4/ Find the most flattering angle by videoing yourself straight on or raise your phone up a little. This way you’ll seem slimmer. 

5/ Video yourself in landscape not portrait mode. 

Take a few still images at the time you video your vlog. A still image can then be used as a profile photo and it will look in context with your vlog and not fake or photoshopped. When you ‘Vlog to Join’ at 5050Cafefriends a profile photo will be randomly taken from your vlog and uploaded as your profile photo but if you want to change it later on – you can, this is when one of the still images you took when you were videoing your vlog will come in handy.

That’s all you need to do to join. Now people can view your vlog and you’ll be instantly 5050 Verified which will let people know that you are who you claim to be.

Stay ‘True To Yourself’ And Be Happy

Having to verify that you are who you are may seem trite, but online, where people don’t know you, it helps to build trust. Being ‘genuine’ and ‘true to yourself (and others)’ can be the key to happiness, because you are living by your own values. You can put being true to yourself to the test by thinking of a situation in which you believe you you were living in accordance with your true thoughts, beliefs, personality and values. If you relive this situation in your imagination, you will be happier.

If you upload a random photo off the internet and use it as your profile photo online or  have altered an image of yourself in some way so that it is more in keeping with trends or what others might think or what you deem to have more appeal, then this may alert other people to you not being genuine and it will make an in-person meeting very difficult.

Using an image of someone that is not your own could also be seen as identity theft. Taking what’s not yours is never a good idea. This may also have the opposite effect to what you intended which in turn, could make you less popular.  If you’ve taken someone else’s identity in order to safeguard your own anonymity, you’re not playing fair and upsetting and misleading people unintentionally or not, can come with its own set of negative consequences. 

Uploading a vlog is verification in and of itself and lets others know that you are genuine. Yes, it can be quite confronting and feel like you are putting yourself ‘out there’ by exposing yourself to the world but if you want to find friends authenticity can be key. 

Uploading a photo from the internet that you know is not of you is known as cat-fishing and is the antithesis of authenticity. If you want to come across as being real and genuine a vlog will let people know this and if you meet up with your online friend/s in real life at least they’ll have some idea of how to recognise you. 

What’s Unbeautiful?

So if you you’re questioning how you look in your vlog and think it may not be representing you in the best way – practice it a few times until you have one you’re ok with. Just remember that having a vlog and being 5050 Verified will let others know that you’re genuine.

It’s not about being beautiful or ugly, being unbeautiful is about being genuine and that sort of inner beauty defies the camera.

At 5050Cafefriends we encourage everyone to upload a vlog because a vlog cannot be photoshopped, uploaded from the internet or edited in the same way a photo can. Wear that big, happy smile, get the light right and shoot. 

Appear in your vlog as you would in your normal everyday life. If you most often wear jeans and a tee-shirt – wear jeans and a tee-shirt. Look like you would as if you were about to meet up with friends. The great thing about a vlog is that it’s not just about how you look – it’s about how you come across, like how your voice sounds and how you seem.

So DON’T fake it till you make it. MAKE IT by not faking it. 

At 5050Cafefriends you can ‘Vlog to Join’ by uploading a simple vlog in which you say something as simple as:

‘Hi, my name is …… and I’m from ….. invite me for coffee.’

social networking

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