Social media is quite undoubtably a truly incredible force; be it for good or bad. It has the force to make careers, destroy lives, connect international communities in near real time, perpetuate cringe inducing embarrassment on ‘the day after the night before’ and fill our lives with a plethora of other wonderful, or devious, things. It holds dominion over a large majority of us. We rarely think however, of the negative potential within our modern social media lives.
The ‘always on’ nature of social media has driven a significant change in our day to day lives. The world has never been so connected. Never before have humans been able to communicate in such a bifocally intimate and impersonal way. The constant barrage of updates into the exciting, dreary and mimicked lives of others can foster a sense of closeness. However, this view of others presents them within an unreal reality, constructed by the orchestrator to present a perfected, preened existence that is far removed from their reality. So we get close to an ideal, as opposed to the real person.
But would reality suit social media? Let us imagine if our social media feed presented only the most ‘realistic’ of updates. Would we be interested in the innermost intimate, boring, personal thoughts of the masses. Thoughts, as trivial as our own?
Perhaps for some, but knowing the bowel movements of our mother in law or the lecherous thoughts of our gynaecologist, at least for most, is not a wildly attractive prospect.
But then, we wouldn’t talk to our friends in person about this would we? (Unless perhaps excessively inebriated).
Therefore, it is probably best that we understand the widest use of social media by our peers for what it truly represents. It is an embodiment of an ideal, far abstracted from reality, and should not be used as a basis to gauge ones life against others.
In so far as over-reliance on social media goes, we could all learn to interact a little more socially in our real, imperfect, lives.
(Photo – Eli Woodbine, London, 2016)