More and more I find that I’m trying to re-create a positive view in my mind of social media. But it’s a challenge because for me it’s always been a love, hate relationship. I mean how many of us critically judge our likeability based on our amount of likes? We return to our screens every ten minutes after we make a post, curious to see how many of our friends have responded with a thumbs up. If we don’t get enough blue thumbs, we start to question whether we’re attractive enough, interesting enough or whether people even care anymore. Explain to me the positive points of this destructive behaviour so many of us are caught up in? That I’m caught up in.
I cringe every time I see a selfie stick. You know, those people that parade around the earth like they’re lost in some kind of virtual bubble, completely disconnected from the world around them. I’ve had a passion for photography ever since primary school, and simply loved to document life and find some way to freeze a memory. I want to hear more stories for this same desire.
And I can see that for others (the selfie stick others) that there is that little element that lives inside of them. But the art has well and truly become lost in a meandering course of attention seeking behaviour. Have you ever watched a bus load of tourists pull up at your local beach? These days, so very few actually take in the beauty of their surroundings. Rather, it’s straight to winding up the selfie stick to capture their overly joyful smiles in front of a scenic background.
I was sitting in a café in Timor recently, where fifteen or so Indonesian tourists came in, each clutching a selfie stick or the latest oversize iPhone. There was no acknowledgment at all for the wait staff, instead they pushed their way straight to the back of the restaurant, pulled out chairs and started snapping up photos of them pouting in front of a well presented selection of art work. There was no intention for purchase of food. Once enough photos were taken, they then proceeded straight out the door, much like the coming and going of a destructive tornado.
And then there’s friend requests. Unless that is what they are, a friend who you know through and through. Perhaps you’ve met someone on your travels whom you formed a deep connection with, and wished to stay in touch. I’m not talking about these genuine ones, I’m talking about a person you may have once met at a party, or spoken to on a bus, or even seen from across the room.
If you do decide to accept the request, then you could go months, or even years without a single exchanged word, but you still allow them to sit there, because the number of friends you have somehow gives you comfort. I’m sure by now you’ve realized a lot of these people are more concerned about the attention they can get from their incredibly intriguing posts than to care what you’re doing with your life.
We have become so fluid as to expose our entire lives to strangers. With more than one billion people around the world being active on Facebook, I wonder how many of them are living a life of illusion, forgetting the true meaning of authenticity and connection. Just don’t forget to live your life as it presents off the screen.