The illusion of intimacy

Oh my god, she is such a kind person, she could have never done that, says a girl on the underground.

Yes, she is so kind-hearted and warm, they are accusing her falsely, agrees another.

They are talking about a YouTuber caught up in one of the latest scandals. There are three of them, all still quite young, though their true age masked by the copious amount of makeup on their round faces and the rest of their attire.

The third girl, who has stayed relatively quiet up until this point, suddenly mutters something, which produces eye-rolls from her two other friends, who ignore her and continue chattering.

You don’t even know her.


With the digital era, the boundaries of relationships have been blurred, with relationships and friendships starting online, the wave of so-called influencers becoming some of the best friends we ever had. Casual aquaintances and strangers becoming our friends online, granting us a glimpse into their seemingly perfect lives.

When you are holding your phone you are holding the idea of a person; an idea you probably helped construct”, so Michele Redmon in an article from 2015 for the Huffington Post. Social media offers us a chance like no other: What used to be nosey neighbors peeking into your garden every now and again or a few people quietly gossiping on the street is now an army of Internet users watching your every move everyday. We have the unique ability to watch, connect and interact with people from all over the world.

But nowadays, it seems like our offline and online lives have morphed into one, with all of us taking in moments through lenses. Yet what is it about social media that creates such a convincing picture? Somehow, it creates the illusion of breaking down walls, while in reality, our walls are up higher than ever. It seems as though social media has become the tool to help satisfy our craving for human connection. But does it really do the job, or just leave us feeling lonelier than before?

In any relationship, trust is the key to success. Companies, celebrities and other “salespeople of the Internet” have picked up on this very quickly, creating unique opportunities and methods to sell their products. Influencers are at the very top of this game, by letting their viewers virtually live through them, creating an air of friendship and trust. We experience with them, laugh and cry with them. A camera lense now our eyes, a microphone now our ears. We know so much and so little all at once.

But what makes us fall into this trap so easily? The answer might be as simple as time. Offline interaction doesn’t give us the time to craft perfect sentences. We cannot photoshop ourselves when we’re walking down the street, we cannot apply a filter to make everything seem less dull. We cannot delete things we shouldn’t have said, we can only live in the moment. Real life is unpredictable.

But maybe that is exactly why we look for an escape. A world where people say the right thing at the right time, a place where the sky is always blue and our food is always delicious. Social media has become an instrument to of validate ones life; As if sharing our every move is assuring ourselves and others look at me, doing something.

At the end of the day, who we surround ourselves with, both online and offline, is still our choice. That is our control in the matter, something a more and more people seem to overlook. We love to hate, following people only to criticise them, to envy them or do both.

Take back control and create a world for yourself that doesn’t leave you feeling miserable about your own life. We are all guilty of showing the highlight reels of our lives on social media – make sure that is not the only highlight in your life. Because in the end, nothing will ever be able to replace real, human intimacy. So why try?


This post is in collaboration with Laura from The Style Of Laura Jane. When we started to brainstorm for ideas, we both gravitated towards social media and technology topics immediately. We ended up combining an idea of hers and mine, bringing you the topic of today’s post.

If you would like to read Laura’s own take on this, head over to her blog to read her post. Chances are that if you enjoyed this post, you are bound to fall in love with her content.

As always, feel free to leave your opinion on this whole matter below. One of the things I enjoy most when writing articles like this is getting to know some of your perspectives!

13 thoughts on “The illusion of intimacy

  1. Wow, this really made me think, and I agree 100% with everything you’ve said, when we see a celebrity story online, we’re actually seeing it through the media’s eyes, which society has helped to create, yet we instantly believe it, when we don’t even know these people or what they’re going through. absolutely amazing post, loved it xx

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Perfectly written! I think social media is hugely about escapism and being more daring or opionated. People look at influences and find them as inspiring and celebrities, but more “normal”. As though they make the idea of wealth and fame more accessible and possible.

    We do have a choice to follow who we like and while Instagram gets alot of bad press for making people feel insecure, there’s also many positive and uplifting accounts out there. xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. You worded EXACTLY what I was trying to say in this post! I think one future development I am really curious about is this “new” generation of influencers, who now, as children, tell their parents they want to be an influencer or Youtuber when they grow up. It sounds weird, but it’s a job like any other nowadays, a job that requires strategy, a lot of (self-)branding and a little luck.

      And yes, I agree completely with you in that despite the many problems that come with social media, it holds a lot of power to do good, or rather, that we, as people, can use it to spread positivity if we choose to do so. It’s all about how we use it.xx

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Ahhh I loved this so much!! It’s genuinely a topic that I think about a lot, and while YouTubers is a great example, I find it so prevalent with singers and musicians who people fan over. I know for quite a while One Direction was like that for me and looking back I find it ridiculous how so many of us thought we knew exactly who they were and what they were like! Not that there’s anything wrong with admiring someone for what they do, but I think there’s obviously a definite line that you’ve really articulated between admiring someone and creating an illusion of intimacy with them as an escape…this was such a great collab and a beautiful post from you as per usual! xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. One Direction is SUCH a great example. I sometimes wonder how these celebrities feel on the other end of what you described. It must be a weird feeling, all of these people thinking they know exactly who you are. Surely that’s also a lot of pressure though; to uphold that image starting from the way you dress to what you say/do. Thank you for sharing Priya, so happy this spoke to you xx

      Liked by 1 person

  4. “When you are holding your phone you are holding the idea of a person; an idea you probably helped construct” – wow. Everything about this post was brilliant and so very true.
    “Offline interaction doesn’t give us the time to craft perfect sentences. We cannot photoshop ourselves when we’re walking down the street, we cannot apply a filter to make everything seem less dull. We cannot delete things we shouldn’t have said, we can only live in the moment. Real life is unpredictable.” Literally wow. YES. We can’t structure something that’s unpredictable, but that’s exactly what online life is – structured, rehearsed, crafted and moulded to create an illusion – something that doesn’t actually exist.
    Amazing post as always Fiona .xx

    Liked by 1 person

  5. With all the YouTube drama that has occurred recently, it has really opened my eyes to just how much we invest in other people’s lives, people that we don’t really know. Social media gives us the impression that we really know someone when in fact it is so easy to fake a persona. But it also gives us the chance to connect with people we would not otherwise know and to keep in contact with those we love, no matter the distance between us. xx

    Liked by 1 person

  6. So interesting! I think in the age of social media we are trusting influencers as we practically share their lives with them sometimes. But the thing is we don’t actually know them and social media often creates an overly perfect image of someone which is not right or truthful xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! I completely agree. In the age of the internet, image is everything. And people like to protect an enhanced picture, which creates an air of pressure for those who see it, even if it’s subconscious. xx

      Like

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