Imagine with me in your mind you are scrolling through your social media feed and there it is, a picture of your friend wearing a bright shiny engagement ring. You are so excited at the thought that they have finally found someone. You immediately comment on their page words of sincere congratulations and excitement about the prospects of joy and delight in their future.
Now envision a different experience. One of your coworkers or friends is in a conversation with you. You notice a new piece of jewelry on a very significant finger. However, this is an individual you have seen every day for as many months and they haven’t mentioned to you that they are even dating or courting someone. How do you react?
Well let me try to shed some light on what your possible reaction might look like in both of these situations. You see, this week I participated in a social experiment. I wouldn’t say it was extremely scientific by any means, and it was definitely more qualitative than quantitative. (As a side note, thank you to all who participated in this study without your knowledge.)
It all started at a bridal shower this weekend. We were given a fake ring as one of the favor. We took a few pictures of all of us wearing them. As the unofficial photographer of the event, I posted these photos on Facebook, and Instagram. Then, the past few days I have been wearing some bling on a certain finger. I’ve interacted with the same people that I do on a daily basis.
The results were actually fascinating. For the first 5 minutes that the photos were on social media I was immediately asked if I was engaged. Because I hadn’t ever made an official announcement they were uncertain, but positive in their response. One friend said, ” So, my friend. I’m seeing the bridal shower pictures and I’m seeing a ring on a certain finger of your hand. So does that mean you are engaged? And if so, congradu-freakin-lations!!!” On instagram the number of likes was 24 in about 15 minutes.
Since I had such a huge response on social media in such a short amount of time I thought hey, why not see how people react in person. (Yes I enjoy analyzing the way people are) For the first 9 hours not one person who noticed the ring acknowledged it. That’s not to say that people didn’t see. My favorite reaction was the double take. You know, look, and then look again. Followed by a confused look on your face. Yet, no questions.
Finally, one observant coworker asked casually, “Hey Ashley where did you get that ring?” To which I responded frankly that I had gotten it at the store. Further response showed that she didn’t quite know what to think or believe but that she felt something weird was up. I continued to wear it for the next couple of days. Many people who I would have expected to see it and react said nothing. A few more double takes, but for the most part no reaction whatsoever.
This whole experiment caused me to ask myself some questions which I now pass on to you. Do we trust social media more than real life interactions? Are we more open and honest in our comments on a computer screen than we are in face-to-face interactions? Are we really observant to the people around us? Would we notice if a life changing event happened on one of our coworkers, friends, or family members? Would we care even if we noticed?
For the most part I think that people are well-intentioned and good at heart. I doubt that anyone would ever intentionally miss the things happening around them. Looks can be deceiving. If we really want to be a part of someone’s life sometimes it takes the effort of asking questions and digging a little bit deeper. I invite us to be a little bit more aware today than we were yesterday. Get to know one thing about someone today in a face-to-face conversation.
Ashley Dewey is extremely talented at being single. Hobbies include awkward conversations with members of the opposite sex, repelling third dates, talking to boys about their girl problems and to girls about their boy problems. In her spare time she also has a very fulfilling school life, work life, and social life. Besides being a professional single, Ashley is also a BYU graduate with a degree in linguistics (Aka word nerd). She enjoys studying other languages, particularly American Sign Language, and finds most all of them fascinating. She is currently pursuing a masters degree in Teaching English as a Second Language. Ashley works most of the time and has often been accused of being a workaholic. Currently she works full time as a merchandiser and supervisor in a retail store, and part time doing social media work. On her day off she works (really it doesn't feel like work) in the Provo LDS temple. The only kind of work she finds difficulty focusing on is house work. Her favorite activities in her free time are reading, writing, creating social experiments, and spending time with great friends and family. Specific activities with those family and friends include: going to concerts, plays, dance recitals, BYU basketball and football games, and watching sports on television.