Although the widespread use of the internet and social media platforms has created great opportunities, and benefits in our lives in many ways, there is one important way in which it hinders us — it allows us to escape vulnerability.
In conducting a good portion of our lives from behind a screen, we are able to get away with a lot. We are able to the avoid dealing with the emotions and reactions of others, and to duck and dodge even from our own feelings. With every perfectly edited and planned post, we are building up the walls of our hearts higher and higher. We are afraid of what people think of us now more than ever. We’ve become so aware of ourselves — mostly our external selves and all of our [perceived] flaws.
We walk around like robots pretending not to have feelings. We sign up for dating apps because we are scared of the potential of rejection of approaching someone irl. We engage in these defence mechanisms to block the human vulnerability that could eventually lead to disappointment, or even heartbreak.
Living in this perpetual state of fear and closedness is doing nothing to help us. In fact, it is doing just opposite that. Sure, we all hate the feelings that accompany a hard break up, or the disappointment of when what we said or thought was going to happen falls through, but that is life, and it’s all part of growing as an individual.
Humans are emotional, social creatures. We are far too complex to be hiding behind screens, telling ourselves not to “catch feelings”, as if it is some sort of disease. If we never open our hearts to experience vulnerability, it is true that we may prevent ourselves from experiencing hurt, but we are also preventing ourselves from experiencing anything deep at all, and those are the experiences that really resonate with and shape us as human beings.
In living in an increasingly superficial world, we concern ourselves only with the surface, going about our days pretending to be complete. We are more connected with each other than ever before, but are we really? We may be connected with one another in terms of being able to reach people with relative ease, but are we connected to them? Is it a real connection? To be open and honest with someone about your thoughts and feelings, and have them accept you for who you are, there’s really nothing that compares. Are we doing this?
It’s time to take off the mask of nonchalance and perfection and dare to open ourselves up. It is not a brave act to cower away in fear, but to be fearless enough to allow the space in our hearts to achieve emotional intimacy with others takes real courage. We need each other more than we think.