I recall when I first created a Facebook account; It was 2009 and I was the last of my siblings to do so. I didn't understand what all the hype was about until after I posted a few times; it grew on me. Eight years and thousands of posts later, the two of us are growing apart.
Social media platforms themselves are innocuous and are valuable tools for communicating to an audience. However, a precursory observation at what's trending at any given time or even a shallow dive into the comments section of almost any post will reveal the dark underpinnings of the society we live in. I have often found myself reacting unconsciously to some of the content that traffics the fiber optic tunnels of our interconnected cultures and societies and blindly following the whimsical trends of popular culture and when I reflected after the fact, I didn't like what I said nor did I like who I felt that I was slowly becoming. Like, why was I feverishly debating with strangers about race and why was I more interested in the clapback than in simply sharing my experience and then listening with compassion? And how many selfies are enough? Selfie. Say it aloud 10 times fast. The name alone has a narcissistic connotation. Are we, the users, unconscious avatars in a nonphysical world that has no bearing on our physical reality? If a tree falls in a digital forest do we hear it in the physical world?
Facebook is a digital smorgasbord of obese communication. A 24/7 cycle of overstimulation. An ecosystem of energy that broods over, catalogs, and curates negativity so much that moments of peace and positivity are becoming endangered phenomena. Contention for external power. Relentless calls for justice for the latest victims of police brutality and corruption. Politics. Racist rhetoric. Narcissistic ideations. Misinformation. Friend requests from people without profile pics. Invasive inboxing. You name it. Thanks to Facebook's award-winning Community Standards there's not much of a filter.
Instagram isn't much different. I was late to the IG party, too. Not fashionably late, just late. I hugged the walls upon arrival to look around first before getting on the dance floor and I still don't quite understand what's going on. I quickly realized that my drink and my two-step did not apply there. Gain followers based on pics and hashtags? So that's what this is all about? It's a voyeuristic vacuum. A stalker's delight. Great. It's like shopping for sh*t I have never desired, but only because I now see it, I feel as though I have to have it. It's a self-defeating loop that feeds the ego. I got caught up, too. I became the ringmaster in my own circus of comparison. I found myself thumbing through other people's pics (people I know and don't know) until I decided it was a toxic experience. I felt and still feel vacuous after almost every visual interaction on IG. Why? Because you can never truly know anyone without first having access to what they fail to expose. In some cases, I feel dirty even. Probably because I feel like a peeping Tom. In this case, though, I'm actually allowed to peep. Hell, peeping is encouraged, but there's a catch: You only get to see the good stuff because God forbid we reveal our darkness and show the fullness of our humanity. So we are left with smiles. Laughs. Happy babies. Weddings. What you and bae are doing at 8:17 pm on a Thursday night. What you did for your birthday. What you ate for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Buy my poorly written book. Support my business even though I don't support yours. Buy followers. (Who buys followers, anyway?) Distraction. Distraction. Distraction. Everything, but sadly, nothing at the same time.
I don't believe we were created to live in such a way that causes us to be absent from the present, vying for attention and power from people and things outside of ourselves. Which begs the questions: Do we like ourselves? Do we ever grow tired of the running in closed-cloop of comparison? Are we afraid to be alone? Would we feel connected if we disconnected? Can we disconnect, even? Are we addicted? If we take ourselves offline would we cease to exist?
I can appreciate some aspects of connecting online, like being able to share my ideas and learn those of others, but at what point does it all become too much and we lose contact with the truth within ourselves and the relationships right in front of us? When do we disconnect so that we can reconnect?
I'm not asking for a friend.