I Hate Social Media / It's Awesome
When it comes to social media and the infiltration of technology into everyday life, we are glorified guinea pigs. Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat enjoyed their meteoric rise to unprecedented popularity just as I hit puberty. It’s strange to imagine these apps were just launching or non existent less than a decade ago. It’s also strange to imagine the later years of childhood without red bubble notifications forever buzzing in the background.
In 6th grade, my “girlfriend” and I communicated strictly through our phones with slide-out keyboards. Over the span of our 5 week relationship, our face-to-face interactions amounted to 4 sentences and 1 hug. I got uncomfortable with my feelings when one morning I woke up to “I <3 u”, and that was the end of my first taste of romance.
Coming home from middle school, I’d rock back and forth on my mom’s desk chair, mesmerized by the blue and white interface of Facebook. Hours were spent tending to my rows of virtual corn in Facebook’s notorious game, Farmville. Hours were also spent engrossed in the realm of Google Chat and Facebook Messenger. It’s physically painful to look back through my chat history and witness the horrifying attempts at flirtation and absolute bullshit exchanged between myself and my middle school friends.
Navigating the waters of social media became increasingly difficult with the rise of Instagram and the start of high school. Suddenly, there were people you followed or were “friends” with on Facebook or Instagram, but had never engaged in a face-to-face interaction. You possessed magical access to all these photos and details about someone’s life, but you’d never even made genuine eye contact. I spent more time than I’d like to admit scrolling through the profiles of people I barely knew. Shit, I still do that to this day.
It’s important to acknowledge we grew up in the confusing fog of social media because we were the first to experience our formative years in the midst of this society changing technology. Web designers openly express how apps are constructed to hijack our dopamine pathways and turn us into addicts. I’ve had mornings where the first thing I did, in this grand world of endless opportunity, was click on a purple orange icon and mindlessly scroll through my Instagram feed.
Social media has also turned FOMO (The Fear of Missing Out) into a low flying epidemic. If you decide to enjoy a quiet night in, and for some masochistic reason decide to check your snapchat, you’ll be presented with a highlight reel of all the funny moments and unforgettable fun happening amongst your friends. The thing about watching a snapchat of a party is that it’s often happening right now. You could launch from your desk, throw a pair of jeans on, and be there in 15 minutes. You could also suffer the dejecting pain of not being invited.
And then there’s the evil combination of feeling like shit and social media. I’ve written about this before, but when you’re struggling through a rough patch in life, and you hop on Instagram to photos of people drunkenly frolicking at formals and enjoying sunsets, you feel like double shit. Tracy is in a bikini at the beach and Chad is celebrating his 5 month anniversary with Sally, and you’re alone watching youtube videos of Mac Demarco put lipstick on a watermelon.
We must keep in mind that social media is indeed a highlight reel. We don’t post about our headache at work, stray moments lost in anxious thought, or the countless Monday afternoons consumed by class, cooking, and laundry. Social media is limited in capturing the range of human experience, and it can be easy to forget that. It’s akin to judging the quality of someone’s life based on their Saturday night rather than their Tuesday morning.
Of course, social media isn’t the devil. Unlike my parents generation, I have no difficulty staying in touch with old friends. Snapchat stores a chronological timeline of some of my favorite memories. Advertising my writing is much easier due to the wide audience provided by Instagram. Facebook has even allowed my mother to burst onto the scene in all of her Art Docent, community orange picking, children raising glory.
Social media is like alcohol. A wonderful addition to some situations, and a consuming, destructive force in others. There is the simple joy of drinking a couple beers around a campfire, and there is the chaotic horror of chugging a bottle of vodka and not remembering how you got home. Like drinking, social media is something we must learn to manage. It’s a beast we must tame. Social media might not fuck your liver, but it could fuck your head, so it’s time we started paying attention.
M u s i c :
/ / Goodbye / / Cage The Elephant
/ / Chariot / / Beach House
/ / Cotton Kid / / Vundabar