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More than meets the eye

 

As I come closer to the end of my journey at Ole Miss and move into the professional world, I have become exceedingly thoughtful about my communication with friends, family and colleagues, or the lack thereof. 

I have recently become puzzled by the fact that I only get to know some people on the surface. I often find myself questioning whether or not I have a desire to get to know people better, or is it that we live in a society where social networks inhibit our ability to get to know people beyond what meets the eye? 

From my personal account, I have a sincere interest in getting to know people, but it seems as though networks like Twitter and Facebook inhibit my ability to do so. I say this simply because following someone on Twitter and adding someone as a friend on Facebook leads us to believe that we are in fact friends. Such thinking has quickly become part of our culture. Is it because we can see everything our “friends” post or tweet about?  

In my view, the harsh reality of such thinking is that we are not actually friends. Even further, this view prohibits people from getting to know someone beyond the surface by discovering the essence of their character. Not only that, such thinking can also jade one’s perception of another. Words can convey a different message and can sometimes give disservices to one’s character, especially in settings like Facebook and Twitter. 

Recently, I decided to build a list of “friends” and what I knew about them; the list was somewhat short when it comes to friends and really short when it comes to content about each friend, and I’m certain vice versa if they so choose to do the same. 

After that, I wanted to understand why I knew so little about my “friends.” While this is a complex question, there are numerous hypotheses to derive from this single question. My first being that maybe we are not really friends or we are probably nine-to-five friends where we only hangout when it’s convenient and ideal for one another. I then decided that would be unfair to all my real friends.  

Then, I thought about it; not only was it me who was difficult to open up to, but also my thinking further perpetuated an idea that because I’ve searched their Facebook page and seemingly monitored all their tweets, I think I know everything about them. 

Let me be clear: I am in no way diametrically opposed to the idea of social networks. In fact, social networks can provide unique opportunities to connect with people. 

Despite those positive characteristics, I have increasingly become wary of how relationships are shaped in a society dominated by the need to constantly get information, not from personal accounts, but via other mediums that are widely accessible.  

Much of my thinking spurs from an idea once imbedded in me: the very importance of writing friendly notes or postcards to friends, or even having a cup of coffee with a friend. Now we can quickly “post” a message on their wall or message them pertinent questions. 

Will we ever see the reversal of such trends? 

 

Cortez Moss is a public policy leadership senior from Calhoun City. Follow him on Twitter at @MossMoss12.