From the media’s obsession with presenting images of what life is supposed to look like and what we need to consume or buy or have or achieve in order to live perfectly peppy joyful lives to comparing ourselves against some standardized depiction of what success or fame or physical beauty is supposed to look like ”“ social media can be a very slippery slope.
How does the very tool that we use to engage us with the world become the very thing that simultaneously dis-engages us?
We feel obsessive, disconnected and a weird sort of apathy and love-hate with our phones and our social apps. “Why don’t I get more likes on that pic I posted?”
Someone made up this rule that we have to be social media savvy and we’ve all bought into it.
But what does any of it mean? How is a “like” quantifiable? How does it add to the quality of our lives? How does it inherently bring anything of value to our immediate experience?
In most cases it doesn’t. The original purpose of social media has been lost. Remember the Arab Spring? How people galvanized movements and gave citizens in remote regions a voice to express inspiring messages? We felt connected to people in humane ways.
Like most things built on “connection” through technology and not real human interaction, social media has become a surrogate self-esteem builder (and basher).
When you use social media to validate yourself (and we each have to admit to varying degrees we all do this!), the relationship becomes very destructive.
Why? Because it’s not real!
The social media landscape is artificially constructed. Photo-shopped images of people doing glamorous things filtered to the hilt to make us look more attractive, special, important, successful, famous, or popular than we really are is very seductive. And not necessarily in a good way.
It’s a magnification of high school all over again. “If more people vote for me and I win homecoming court, I’m cool.”
Ummmm . . . no you’re not.
Instagram and other social media outlets provide amazing platforms to connect with people in ways we truly, deeply desire. That is ”“ real, authentic, inspiring connection to (and inspiration by) other like-minded people.
The ultimate challenge of being here is to create for self. Not for the likes or thumbs up, or ’s or retweets. But to create and work with people on things that mean something to you and explore who you are beyond your restrictions and fears of what you think you can and can’t do. That’s why each of us is looking for a platform to be seen, heard and acknowledged.
I get it. That’s the artist’s dilemma. Wanting to create and be acknowledged for our creating.
What if we stopped using social media (and other external sources) as a validation tool to make us feel good about ourselves ”“ because it will never be enough. It’s insatiable. Have value in self regardless of what people think of you. Because other people are going to think whatever they think of you anyway.
The answers are not in the phone. Biggest light bulb ever. If the answers were in the phone you would’ve found it already and you wouldn’t constantly need to be scrolling and swiping and looking and comparing and despairing and lamenting and searching and liking and crying ”“ only to do it all again and again. The answers aren’t in manipulated imagery.
As Emma Stone’s character says to Michael Keaton in the Academy Award winning Birdman in his attempt to become relevant via social media: “You’re doing this because you’re scared to death – like the rest of us – that you don’t matter. And you know what? You’re right. You don’t. It’s not important, okay? You’re not important. Get used to it.”
Preach. In the big scheme of things . . . it’s so true. And that realization can be a huge breakthrough to freedom right there. To create and express for self. While we still can. In the ways you not only want to ”“ but for the reasons you came here to create to begin with. The only “like” you need to do that ”“ is the one from yourself.