There are increasing reminders that social media is having a profoundly damaging effect on people prone to depression. It’s profound because it lets them hide so thoroughly behind a facade of happiness.
On social media, people don’t see us. They see the part of us we want them to see.
It’s important to develop meta-thinking about social media. As Mary Karr said as Syracuse University’s commencement speaker, “Don’t compare your twisted-up insides to others’ blow-dried outsides.”
But it’s more important to see people. See people in real life, where their humanity can show.
Author Ian MacLaren wrote this little aphorism I often consider:
Be kind; everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.
To me, being kind in the age of social media doesn’t mean liking their Instagram photos or Facebook statuses. It doesn’t mean texting them back or Snapchatting.
It means seeing them. Seeing them in real life. Not letting their digital facade be all you see.
And teachers more than anyone. We need to teach, shape, and encourage our students, and we cannot do this without really seeing our students.