I am in my early twenties, and I’m a social media junky! Ok scratch that! Let’s start that again…I am a 20-something ninja, and social media scares the shit out of me. I use it every day but that doesn’t mean I have developed balls of steel yet.
Since I joined Facebook and twitter half a decade ago, I cannot remember a week that has gone by where I have not checked one of my social media forums to see what New Things have gone on, or what Nice/Funny Things people are posting or recommending. And I have realized that I am, we all are, self-absorbed assholes. Does it make it okay that we are self-absorbed assholes as a cohort, storming the streets while taking selfies? Instagramming our protests outfits and lunches, and live-tweeting every action we make, every step we take? Or is it just ridiculous that we have been raised in a culture so self-entitled that we are under the impression that our every thought is worth our every friends’ attention and clicks of gratification?
We may never believe this, but Social media actually affects our brains, ok, that’s according to some ‘research’ I read somewhere on these streets. Basically, every time we see that someone positively acknowledged our carefully calculated social media world, we get off to it like it is a drug. It feels good. Then the feeling fades, and we want more. Dopamine (heheh I had to use this word) is a funny thing, and it is a key player in reward-driven learning. I remember I once posted a pic of me smiling wryly while high on cheap booze at a bar and it received way more attention than the inspirational quote I posted thereafter. Ninjas are mean out there, no one wants to hear your inspirational shit.
The main focus of social media is ourselves, and ourselves in comparison to other people. We are torn between our current lives and our fictitious lives. We post “casual” photographs with friends at a trendy coffee shop in our best outfits, wearing sunglasses indoors like celebrities. And inside, we might feel silly. But outside, we are just playing the game. And after all, that coffee shop photo got, like, 53 hearts on instagram.
I realized that social media, or, Social Media, has been a part of my entire post-teenage experience. It is an unstoppable force, impossible to get rid of, tap-dancing in our faces to remind us of what we are missing and why everyone should love us, the star of the show. I see moms posting mirror shots of themselves with their daughters peering up at them from their knee-height. Wondering in childhood amazement why their mom is always smiling at her own reflection, rather than the beautiful daughter they created down at their feet. I see young girls pursing their lips in “duck face” mode at the camera, hips popped, elbows out, modeling whatever trend we have created where this is an acceptably sexy pose. I see shirtless guys and “fitspirational” girls on Instagram’s popular page with 123 hearts, photos of fast cars and unobtainable sunsets, selfies and exotic locations. Most of all, what I see is a brag board of envy, a place to highlight our highs in life and to slip past our lows. I see a carefully constructed Sims world, where ladies tell one of their friends “OMG girl, you look so good in that dress,” and then talk shit about how slutty that dress was to their friends later. We are lovers and haters of ourselves and those around us. We have false idols and false lives. We are the writers, directors, producers, and actors in our own lives.
I am a victim of this madness but there are limits, there are limits to those photos we post on instagram. No one wants to see how hard you try to be happy and we all know you are miserable, yes, more than a church rodent. Like this, heart this, retweet this, scathingly comment on this and tear me to shreds behind the safety of a screen. But remember this: no matter how many selfies you take, no matter how many filters you apply, and no matter how many Likes your photo gets, we are all human. And none of us are getting out alive. So next time you take out your camera, think about capturing the moment, rather than capturing a moment just to filter and post it. Because remarking on everything remarkable, just somehow makes that moment extremely unremarkable.