Lonely? … Blame it on Your Social Network.


By Liz -

Hi Everyone :) I was talking to Otessa the other day about how people use Facebook and she mentioned this article in The Atlantic. Oddly enough, while social media from Facebook to Twitter have kept us more more connected and involved with the world at large, instead of bringing us closer to actual people and making us feel a part of something bigger, it’s been shown to make us more narcissistic and lonelier.

I totally get the narcissistic part. How many times a day do I see someone on my newsfeed change their profile picture for the tenth time this month with yet another ducky face —>

But loneliness? That seems like a contradiction. Apparently, while we have broader and more accessible connections, they’re  shallower and we’re actually more isolated. While we socialize more, we actually spend less time in real society amidst the presence of flesh-and-blood humans. The Atlantic sums up their theory well: “We meet fewer people. We gather less. And when we gather, our bonds are less meaningful and less easy.”

I have over 400 friends on Facebook, but come to think of it, my “real” friends – meaning those who aren’t acquaintances but those with whom I can be honest – only amount to one or two people. But growing up, I remember having more than one or two true confidants to whom I told everything: who I was crushing on, what was happening with my crazy family, my dreams for the future, my fears.

I think that’s one reason why I connected with the OJBG show and characters: the friendships between the OJBG girls and boys took place when “social media” wasn’t even a term and teens would just hang out together. Instead of sharing links to funny YouTube videos of kittens and babies eating lemons (which I LOVE), the OJBG gang hung out in Bishop’s Garden, they had a band, discovered the unique parts of their city, caused trouble. Watching the OJBG characters fill up their summers by doing crazy things together and learning more about one another is something I enjoy seeing because it’s become so scarce in my life now. Teens nowadays spend their time together differently. They chat, they Tweet, they post photos of themselves on Instagram and when they do hangout in person, they must notify all their social media connections. And a relationship isn’t legit until it’s officially posted on Facebook.

But this doesn’t hold for just teens- how many hours of the day do I spend with my boyfriend when we’re both actually on our phones instead of interacting and truly spending time together? Sigh.

Instead of sharing our problems with the people in our lives and using them and acting as a support system, we update our status, post pictures on our wall, and like other people’s statuses and pictures. We agonize over what part of ourselves we want to portray to people instead of just being completely ourselves. We’re spared the awkward pauses, embarrassing Freudian slips, and clumsiness of face-to-face conversation.

I’m often a social clutz – I blush, I stammer, I get awkward. But it is often these weird uncomfortable moments that are beautiful and fondly memorable. Remember back in Season 2 when Sarah was still figuring out her sexuality and navigating her feelings for Gwen? I love the awkward moment in Episode 2.4 (L+T &S+G) when Sarah mentions she hates The Odyssey and Gwen says she actually likes it. Sarah ends up stammering and then covering up her blunder with the quick confession that, “In all honesty, I like The Odyssey, too.” And then there’s the uncomfortable moment when Gwen walks away…. haha. It’s so awkwardly innocent that it’s cute!

But this isn’t to say Facebook and social media are evil because they can lead to less interpersonal contact. Slate has an article that disagrees with The Atlantic, saying that the real danger of Facebook is not that it causes isolation, but changes our idea of solitude by  mixing “our appetite for isolation with our vanity”. This “new isolation” can be harmful, but what really matters in the end is how we choose to use our social media – passively paying attention, or actively engaging and taking a genuine interest in making meaningful connections.

We want to be a part of your TRUE social network! We appreciate all the support from our OJBG fans :) From free ebooks, new posters coming out, and fashion collaborations, we’re going to find ways to show you all some OJBG love <3



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