Why Social Media scares the isht out of me

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.

A GENERATION THAT FEAR MISSING OUT

Last week Friday as I left the office with a couple of colleagues heading to our usual watering hole, an interesting topic came up – our fears. Two seemed to be louder than the rest: the fear of settling down and the fear of not having enough time to do everything we wanted. What if there wasn’t enough time? What if the adventure came to an end before we wanted it to? These fears, palpable and real to everyone, all of us twenty-two and twenty-three years old, echoed out into the brazen evening weather. To the rest of the people who are living in what is this dynamic, limitless, thrilling, terrifying decade of our lives. A decade we live with constant reminders that we are too young to know what to do.

What are we supposed to do with that? What is supposed to be a helpful bit of advice from the older and wiser ends up feeling like an enormous amount of pressure to do everything, see everything, go everywhere, and meet everyone. They didn’t take enough risks, they didn’t travel enough, they didn’t maximize their youth. But we, we are here. We are in it. We have the opportunity to do it right. And it feels like every second counts.

When I graduated from college I did not feel paralyzed by the fear of not knowing what to do with my life, I felt overwhelmed by the many, sprawling, myriad things I wanted to do. That I would not be able to make my life as big as I felt it needed to be.

As we wound around the curves of the road, we talked about the things we wanted to do and the places we wanted to go and the people we wanted to be. Of the adventures we wanted to have. Of the things we wanted to accomplish. And I began to wonder then if the moment of history we are experiencing our twenties in is heightening this grass-is-always-greener mentality that seemed to be prevalent among my peers. We live in an age where every cool thing we ever do is immediately disseminated through social media to all of our friends and acquaintances, and so more than ever we are aware of the stunning array of options that exist out in the universe.

The world in its present state of technological advancement has given us the ability to do many things at once, to be reading and talking and watching and communicating all at the same time. We are encouraged not to choose, to cram as many things into one moment as possible, and this mindset seems to have leaked into other areas of our lives. Suddenly the idea of doing only one thing, of living only one place, of being with only one person seems like we are limiting ourselves unnecessarily – seems like a trap. And so suddenly we are beset with this powerful, real, and yet only recently coined emotion: FOMO – the fear of missing out.

I have often felt the panic of FOMO on a life-level – that there are inevitably a million things I could be doing that are a far better use of my time than what I am doing at present. I have felt this despite loving what I was doing at the moment of feeling this way. And this is where our desire to seize the day, to club in every town, to test every gizmo, to take advantage of the freedom of our youth begins to backfire.

Maybe the issue we’ve come head to head with is that we are living in a time that seems to emphasize quantity over quality. Perhaps our generation has found a new way to miss out on the opportunities of our youth—not by not seizing them, but by being so distracted during them that we fail to seize them properly.

And so as we approached our destination I just smiled wryly, the voices of my buddies, like a distant sonnet, ringing near me. Maybe I’m not missing out after all, or am I? After a couple of shots – of Vodka later that night, I confirmed that I really am not. Am happy and that’s what counts.

SHOCKER: Men Don’t Really Compare Penis Sizes

Thought Catalog

My initial response to this piece, written by the estimable Kat George, was simply, “Cock-Sharing???” I’ve always assumed women are more comfortable naked around each other than men are – which is probably another indication that men and women don’t know shit about each other. This unfortunate fact dates back only to the beginning of time, but I believe we can bridge the divide with some honest dialogue.

Never in my life have I felt moved to compare dicks with another male, whether openly or surreptitiously. I’ve always been transfixed by the female form. When I was about four years old, my mom and aunt took me swimming, and since I was so small they took me into the women’s bathroom with them. My aunt made the mistake of changing right in front of inquisitive little me, and I spent the rest of the day asking, loud as shit…

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Your “Small Problems” belong to the Gutter

So you dropped your iPhone on your way to work this morning and the screen cracked. Or, maybe your laptop decided to go HAM on you and you are on a deadline. Perhaps that rogue matatu driver decided to splash roadside pooled water on you, and you are heading to an interview. For some people, these are life changing and catastrophic problems. For me, they are nothing.

In fact, I have cracked my iPhone screen (Heheh that’s a lie, I have never owned an iPhone), my computer once decided to go on recess while I was presenting my debut PR pitch. And I lost count on the number of times matatus have made my life a living hell. I have had my share of bad days, you know.

So don’t say I can’t relate. I can.

In reality, these are small problems. They’re small because they aren’t life-changing. A phone can be replaced. Sure it may be expensive, but you could always suck it up and deal with it. You may have to reschedule that presentation, you may go back to the house and change or pop in the next shopping mall and buy a new set all together. Five minutes, not even ten minutes, of putting a panel of interviewers on hold will dent your CV, as long as you know you are good with what you are about to present.

So why fret? Your small problems are not worth the stress. Honestly, we don’t want to HEAR you fret about them either. Hush.

People often neglect taking the time to look at the big picture. Most of us that complain about these small problems are people who can afford to get an education, provide food for themselves, and sleep with a roof over their head. Such a tough life, right? Think about the homeless people on the streets who stress over how they are going to afford their next meal. Think about those who have just been diagnosed with cancer and are experiencing depression and anxiety. Think about that young girl who was raped last night, by her grandfather and no one believes her. Think about those that don’t have running water in their home because they can’t afford it. Just think.

If you’re going to talk about small things in life, talk about small luxuries. Talk about those mornings when you get to sleep in, talk about the random act of kindness a stranger did for you, talk about that day when the sunshine dominated the forecasted rain.

So yes, I want to hear about the little things in life.

I want to see the candid pictures you have on your cracked iPhone, I want to know how apologetic you were when your machine jammed, and the way you convinced your audience to bare with you. I want to hear how they laughed to that joke you cracked about how machines are more unreliable than the Kenyan Weatherman. I also want to know how you turned up for the interview looking like Peter Marangi, considering you didn’t want to go back and change. Yes I want to know how appreciative you can be, even for the little joys in life.

If you’re going to be negative, order the self-help book “Gratitude for Dummies.”