This video is hugely popular right now. I think it’s bunk. And I’ll tell you why: The connections between the facts shared in the video and the claims made are, at best, loose, and at worst, non-existent.
Let’s dig in…
Man is social, but is forced to be individual
The video starts by explaining that man is a social creature and feelings of loneliness can drive us mad. We can establish up to 150 intimate connections at any given time. However, modern western society “sanctions individuality,” which is measured by a successful career, wealth, self-image and consumerism.
I disagree. I think modern western society sanctions family and followers. That’s what mass advertising is all about – do this, buy that, be this, look like that – and then you’ll be happy. And we do. We buy the cars, the make-up, the trips, the sweaters, the toys, the houses, the locks, the computers, the beer, the tickets, etc. And we have the little family with the house and the yard near the good school and we drive the SUV to Walt Disney World so that we can be like the thousands upon thousands of other people.
I would argue that the lack of individuality out there is staggering.
Individuality causes loneliness
The video states that this drive to be individual, ergo successful, causes many people to lose their social and family connections. And then the video takes the first of several big leaps, and assumes that the social fabric of the western world is weakening and, thus, loneliness is the most common ailment in the world.
Um, no it isn’t. Maybe loneliness is the second most common? Nope. Third? Nope. I couldn’t find one list that easily matched to another list, but I can confidently say the commonly cited ailments included: diabetes, high blood pressure, asthma, depression, eczema, dandruff, tooth decay, indigestion, sore throat and the common cold. And, furthermore, I can say, that none of the many, many lists included loneliness.
And the video never explains exactly why individuality creates loneliness. Loosely defined, we could say that individuality is the quality of one person that stands apart from another person. Loneliness is sadness because one has no friends or company. The two words are not interchangeable and one does not cause they other.
Social media = decline of society
The next big jump is something we hear all the time: the rise of social media is in direct correlation to the decline of personal connections. The video states that we use social media to manage and create connections, because we’re too busy to do so in real life.
That might lead you to believe that you have to choose between social media and real life, and I don’t think that’s true. I think there are many, many people out there capable of having meaningful relationships with their family and friends and who are able to use social media to help maintain connections both near and far, with close friends, colleagues, family members and acquaintances alike.
Fear of intimacy
At the conclusion, the video makes its last giant leap and, as conclusions should never, never do, introduces a poorly defined, non-supported new concept: we are afraid of intimacy. The idea is that we spend endless hours creating an edited, desirable image of ourselves online because we’re afraid of intimacy. The worry is that we are creating false connections, which means we will never know how to be alone, and that means we will always be lonely.
What? Where did that come from? Didn’t the video start by saying that it is in our very nature to happily exist within 150 intimate connections? I thought individuality was supposed to create loneliness. It sounds like loneliness is created from false connections, which are caused by a fear of intimacy. Where did this conclusion come from?
This video is bunk. And in keeping with the video’s new conclusion structure, I’ll introduce a new idea and not defend it: That social media was used to promote this video is ironic.