If you use social media in either your professional or personal life (or both, as many of us do), you may have experienced a moment where you became so engrossed in your activity within a social media platform that you actually lost your conscious connection to the “real” world for a period of time.
Think of this akin to when your mind wanders while you are driving, and suddenly you snap back to attention not remembering the last mile driven. You lost yourself in your thoughts, and your consciousness was transported somewhere not connected to your physical being.
Wikipedia describes metaphysics as “the branch of philosophy dealing with theories of existence and knowledge.”This branch of philosophy is very wide and explores many topics of “being,” including the link between our essence (some might say “soul”) and our physical bodies.
Social media allows us, in many ways, to immerse ourselves so much into our online experience, along with the other people on the same platform at the same time, that we can basically tune out (consciously or not) what is going on around us in our real, physical world. In a way, it is like space-time travel.
You are physically in your desk chair or couch, but in all other aspects, you are in the “Twitterverse,” engaging in conversations and connecting with other “Twittersonians” (or “LinkedInians,” “Facebookardians,” etc).
Have you found yourself thinking, “I wonder if I’ll run into @MaryC this morning on Twitter,” or “I’m going to make my status on Facebook invisible to my boss, ex, stalker, whomever doesn’t know I’m currently online”? Then you already have experienced the concept of placing yourself “in” the chosen social media platform. The various platforms become your “Social Media Village.”
You know that at a certain time of day this or that person will be on Twitter or Facebook, or whatever your platforms of choice happen to be. You might find yourself taking advantage of that to connect with someone who has been hard to catch up with. You might — gasp — try to track where the person is at the moment (in the offline and online world).
I’m not talking about losing yourself in one-way media — such as a movie or a static website, as in an escape — but rather where your consciousness has been transported to another realm where you connect on the same plane with many other real people who have done, for that period of time, the same exact thing.
This becomes even more exciting when you see that this allows you to connect with people all over the globe, minimizing the time differences that often keep us disconnected. Early morning on Twitter for me allows me to connect with both people in Europe as well as West Coast night-owl friends.
The connections made, and broken, within the confines of social media are just as real as those in real life. Facebook has been credited with anywhere from 1 in 5 to 1 in 3 marriages, by various sources.
Those are real-life outcomes to online connections. By understanding just how much we transport the essence of ourselves into our Social Media Village, we can understand how important those connections we make are to us, and to those we have connected with.
There was a time when we disregarded anything online as being fake or somehow unreal, and hence open for all kinds of behaviors. Yet the metaphysics of social media helps us to realize just how real social media is.
So engage with the understanding that these relationships we have created and nurtured are just as real as the ones with our neighbors, club members and classmates, and treat and honor them accordingly.
“I suppose you are real?” said the rabbit. And then he wished he had not said it, for he thought the Skin Horse might be sensitive. But the Skin Horse only smiled.” –From “The Velveteen Rabbit,” by Margery Williams.