The information revolution has marked a shift from simple static websites to Social Media sites where users generate all of the content. This change has allowed people to easier voice their opinions, share their experiences, and nurture their relationships. We all participate in the public debate, no matter if we got something to say or not. However, the opportunity to unfiltered speak our minds through all these different platforms, has given rise to more surrealistic and silly comedic spasms than Monty Python ever could have dreamed of. It’s as if social media are turning us into crackbrained idiots…
But let’s first have a look at what’s really important.
It’s a fact that the digital age has an impact on our sensibility and sensitivity. Social Media cause a reaction in our brain that is much like addiction. We live in our reality-distorting bubble of <likes> while constantly drawing attention to our supposed fabulous life. In the meantime we are often feeling lonely, useless and less than interesting, so – just like an addict – we go out for even more attention. That is why Social Media are so successful.
Some even say that Social Media are to blame for the rise in narcissism. The frequency of Narcissistic Personality Disorder in young adults is now nearly three times as high as it was fifty years ago. People who score higher on the Narcissistic Personality Inventory questionnaire, tend to have extremely more friends on Facebook, tag themselves more often in photos and update their statuses more frequently. The good news is that more therapists than ever are earning a good living trying to treat these narcissists. The bad news is that narcissists cannot be treated. There isn’t a single therapist out there talented enough to make a real human being out of an arsehole.
A clean house is the sign of a broken computer. At present we need an almost heroic self-control to not go after the exposure that the internet is offering. We are always connected, always encouraged to be a part of the network, always linked to humanity, or what’s left of it. We are so self-obsessed that each aspect of our everyday life has to be consistently documented and shared. We are in a constant state of self-display. We gush out the most boring details of our least significant activities, and we all expect everyone to ‘like’ them. We take pictures of literally everything around us and put them on Instagram. We get plenty of ‘hearts’ for every picture we post, as if our photographs were little works of art. It’s just so cool that our creativity is spiking! (Personally, I love sarcasm, but it’s not for everybody.)
We tweet what we believe to be authentic and valuable opinions, while they are mostly stupid ideas. Why are they stupid? Because we do not think long enough, before we post. We press <enter> more quickly than Liberty Valance could ever draw his gun. Why are we constant on the look for retweets and attention, while every 280 words tweet we read feels like a conversation we were trying to avoid? Furthermore, the tweets we so eagerly send out, only generate moronic responses that we feel compelled to reply to. Our Twitter account just needs too much attention and care, making it an enormous time-suck.
Today we spend on average about two hours a day checking three to four social media accounts. This sad state of affairs has led to a worldwide alienation. Not surprisingly the word alienation comes from the Latin word for slave, alienus. We are literally propelling ourselves into internet fame slavery.
One of the atrocities that has come out of this social media fame slavery, is the selfie. A selfie is a trite self-portrait taken by ourselves or a friend with long arms. The pics look exactly the same wherever we are and whatever we are doing, because there’s only just enough room in the frame for our silly grinning faces. Constantly taking selfies and posting them online, trying to control how the public perceives us, can make us care more about our online self than our actual self. We’re delusional if we believe that people actually care about the subtle differences between our Tuesday and Friday facial expression. And another thing: you may be good-looking, but there’s literally no one in the world that needs to see close-ups of your face from 67 different angles. Nobody cares. So – please – stop taking so many selfies.
Many of today’s people are also obsessed with fame. They often believe that they should be rich and famous, regardless if they are talented or not. They are willing to sell their soul for internet fame and have fantasies about red carpets, winning awards, appearing in television shows and being on the cover of glossy magazines. Obviously they haven’t heard about the horrors of being a celebrity. In any case, the current populace of the world has greater desires and expectations than any generation before. Too bad they probably will only make it to flipping hamburgers at McDonalds and end up living pretty anonymous lives. That will at least be one of their little fantasies ruined by real life: that you cannot obtain very much, if you are lazy and spoiled. You want to hear another hard real life fact? It’s not because you work hard, are amazingly talented, put in the time and effort, and stay focused on your goal, that you will achieve the attention you were hoping for.
We are not all happy and beautiful people, successfully pursuing our dreams and being in love with another beautiful, fit, fulfilled person. We are no Kim Kardashian or Kanye West, sitting on our Superyacht, sipping piña coladas. Why do we feel the need to project this fake celebrity-like lifestyle image? It’s as if we fear to be irrelevant and we constantly need to reassure ourselves that we exist, that we are liked and loved. That we are worthy of admiration. We’re as hungry for <likes> as lab rats who are hysterically waiting for the bell to ring.
Bloggers, Vloggers, YouTubers, Instagrammers, Snapchatters… have often millions subscribers and are usually just as famous as rock stars or actors. While becoming famous used to be a pretty hard thing to obtain, it has now become something very accessible for everyone who has some kind of a so-called ‘original’ idea. The funny thing is that, the more stupid your idea is, the more chance you have to become successful with it. It’s as if being stupid is the new black. That’s why you see so much of the same ridiculous crap surfacing all around. The internet encourages people to copy things that are popular, rather than to create something original and new.
We used to be thinkers, we used to have individual thoughts, while now we are too dumb to bring forth something meaningful. We believe we are some unique main character in a special story, still every Facebook page resembles the next one. Our Facebook News Feeds consist of almost identical copies of boring lives of people we hardly know, living exactly the same life as we are, if we believe the digital version of ourselves that we put on view on Social Media.
We should curb ourselves from posting so much trivial shit. Because, when you’ve seen one smiling baby photo or one cute kitten pic or one magnificent holiday snap, you’ve seen them all. We don’t need to share every sublime sunset (look at it, instead). You have a new lover? Keep it to yourself, at least until you are sure it’s going to last longer than a week. You are afflicted with a serious disease? You truly do not have to share that very personal information with the rest of the world, unless your Facebook crowd consists purely out of close friends, and even then. Just keep in mind that not everything you do must be seen as a hashtagging opportunity.
So… What’s the solution? It’s really rather simple. Don’t put too much importance on your public reputation or image. Acknowledge that it is out of your control. Remind yourself that there is not a direct connection between your image and your actual worth. You will be happier living a genuine life, like when you’re having a romantic dinner, you are not obliged to take a selfie. Remember that society’s reflection distorts like a circus mirror. And try not to gaze into that mirror of public opinion too often. Remind yourself of the value of disconnection, of silence and contemplation, of allowing deeper thoughts to emerge. Tend to your inner garden, to your hidden and better self, to talking face to face to your real life friends, even if that doesn’t get you a thousand ‘likes’ on Facebook.
© 2018 – David Lee Kollberg