By Finder blogger: Andrea McKenna
Social media can keep you connected when you feel off the hook.
I talked recently about loneliness here in Singapore, a problem that affects many of us expats now and then. Getting out there and meeting people may be the #1 way to battle isolation, but if that is not an option, my #2 go-to is social media.
Some experts on mental health and loneliness due to isolation say online connections are not as powerful or as effective as real-life, in-person meetups. However, it’s my belief that because we are thousands of miles away from friends and family, social media connections are an amazingly good fit for our lifestyle and they do, in fact, bring some peace and social satisfaction to our lives.
Now, I’m not talking about getting into heated political arguments or debating dubious parenting techniques, as we’ve all no doubt seen on our local expat Facebook pages and in our personal news feeds. Rather, I see tremendous value in those sites as a way to keep in touch with folks here even if you can’t meet them at Boat Quay because of travel, kids, or any other reason that keeps you at home.
So I say get on the various ladies’ expat Facebook pages and make it a point to focus on the positive. There are many things, information and support, that can be had from those pages.
Like Karma, you get out what you put in. If you seek support, you will get support. And it is there if you want it. If you argue and criticize, you will be shut down and shut out, which is no good, and frankly, not very social. (Would you do or say that in person? Ask yourself that before you post.)
In other ways, social media can supplement face-to-face social contact by allowing you to create and carry on conversations with loved ones and friends from home or wherever they live now. And it can help you make new friends! I have several friends here that I only know online, never met them in Singapore. But we talk, yes we do.
Also, I certainly have seen my fair share of good friends leave Singapore. The fact is, I stay in touch with nearly all of them through Facebook! They understand life here and I can always reach out when I need some support on what it’s like to live here. They often reinforce the good things we have in life here by liking or commenting on SG-based photos and posts.
Yeah, I may be the chick that checks Facebook a lot and posts a lot, but you know what? I make no apologies because I’m making a strong effort to remain connected to the people that matter in my life. I rarely feel lonely because I am in contact. And when I do feel lonely, I do what we talked about in my last loneliness post — I reach out, in person sometimes, and via social media by sending messages or posting a comment or a like.
For me, nothing is better than when the U.S. peeps come online at about 6 p.m. here in Singapore. I get my East Coasters, then Chicago, and then the California/Seattle folks start responding later in the night and early morning here. Mix in my European friends in the late afternoon and my Aussie friends by early evening. Basically, I have no time of day when my friends are NOT online. So for time zone issues, social media is the ultimate answer.
I realize social media, like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and SnapChat, is not for everyone. I still don’t get SnapChat, for example, and I hate Twitter, though I have to use it for my writing work. I am merely offering up the idea that social media IS a valid human connection.
About Andrea McKenna
Andrea McKenna Brankin is journalist and author from the United States who lives a full life with bipolar disorder. Her book, Bipolar Phoenix, is awaiting a publishing contract. She is also currently a volunteer at the DaySpring Residential Treatment Centre for teen girls in Singapore, providing befriending-family support, therapeutic writing and rugby coaching.