Thursday, October 10, 2013

My little commentary on social media, and why I will be cutting back.

Why is it so important to be happy every day of the world?  I have been examining my life lately, and while most of it is great, I am one of the pathetic masses that seems to have gotten sucked into social media, to a fault.  I have such a love/hate dichotomy with it, really.  I love feeling connected to my peers, but I hate the comparison and envy play that goes with it.

I know this is definitely more the rule than the exception, and hear plenty of supporting evidence when I talk to other people who seem to be experiencing the same bizarre phenomenon.  I get so bitter when I hear about people getting together without me, or spending money on outings, shows, and date nights constantly, or buying the latest, greatest things money can buy.  I find all of it very irritating, and yet, I can't stop reading about it!

I will admit it is an addiction.  It is one of those addictive behaviours that many think serves them, but in reality just sort of erodes their well-being.  A friend pointed out yesterday that she read an article about how the happiest cities also seem to have the highest rates of suicide.

Why?  Comparison.

It is evil.  It truly is.  Seeing what the "haves" are able to do, when you are stuck at home, and can barely afford the gas to go about your daily life; let alone that extra trip across town just to hang out with people?  It's really fucking depressing; in and of itself.  We all have different circumstances.  It's true.  I should be grateful for what I have. I have plenty, really.  But when comparison is in play?  That goes right out the window.

I think, for me, it is time to figure out how to make a life involving less social media, and more actual socialization.

Maybe I need to focus on only using social media as a means of promoting art and let the rest of it go. It is going to be tricky, because I have allowed it to be my main source of connection for way too long, but it is a false prophet, for sure.  It is not an accurate depiction of anyone's life.  Most don't even see their lives for what they really are, when they are that glued to a screen, and tuned into everyone else; an "everyone else" that they may not even know that well, or may have never even met in person.

And good fucking Christ!   Some of the people you meet in that way are TERRIBLE real life communicators!  They don't do face-to-face well, and prefer facebook as a means of communicating and connection.  They even post there constantly while hanging out together, about things only the people sitting right there understand; barely looking up from their phones at times, and joking away on their walls with one another. 

WHY???  No.  Really.  WHY???

 Do they understand how annoying that is to anyone else who might be tuned in at that time?  It does not make them look more attractive, or intelligent, sought after, or anything.  It just makes them look like people who can't seem to function any other way, or that they have to prove that they do actually get off of their asses and see people face to face... sort of.  Or, they are just showing off.  Whatever it is, it's obnoxious.

I am not referring to photos of events, or fun little happenings, per-se.  I am, however, referring to the little inside jokes that only the people sitting across from one another, understand.  I, along with quite a few people I know, see it as sort of a neener-neener approach to alienation, and honestly?  Yeah, it works.

And online communication can be frustrating, as well.  People are often terse, short, rude, and sometimes even openly hostile, because there is no immediate consequence.  There is no one sitting there with them, ready to slap them in the face.  It's safer.  You can take on any affect that you think might suit you, because you see it working for someone else.  Yeah... no.  Honestly?  It probably isn't working as well as you think it is for that person.  And if you are doing it, bear in mind that sadly, the person you are writing to, is still a human being, regardless of what you might be looking at.  You see words and a screen.  You think you are being brilliant, witty, and smart, but there is no way to actually read the tone, or mood of the person you are supposedly communicating with.  You aren't actually connecting at all, and you may very well be hurting someone pretty deeply with your careless communication style.

Furthering that, I have noticed people who will say that they are straight shooters, and tell it like it is.  That's fine.  Do that, but for fuck's sake, figure out a way to do it so you don't sound like an asshole.  Find words that tell the truth without digging in and causing pain.  Not everyone is in a place where they can receive that sort of thing well.  You can certainly do that without being terse.  If you disagree, you should probably examine your intentions, because chances are?  You won't be heard if you choose to be a terse asshole.  In that case?  You are busy serving yourself, rather than your audience.  What I am referring to, is called non-violent communication.  Look into it.  Know your audience.  Stop alienating people.

As for actual effects on my own well-being, besides all of this;  I have noticed is that my own brain gets so foggy, and distracted, distractable, and then irritable when I spend too much time reading social media.  I can't really imagine it being that different for others, and yet, I know some people who are online... all the live long day!  Scrolling through the feeds, I often skip something if it looks like it's too long.  Sometimes my eyes stop focusing altogether.  What am I even doing then?  I almost find it to be the antithesis of stimulating.  I really do feel stupider, and also find it harder to cope with every day situations because I feel like I know too much about people I honestly barely know.  And dear reader:  some of those things?  They frighten me!

Yes.  False intimacy.  It works both ways.  We find out all sorts of interesting tidbits about people we probably wouldn't even know well enough to name and say hello to on the street, and vice-versa.  When we share things in this way, we are sharing with everyone, and no one... because how can we remember everyone on our friend list?

I suppose we all want connection and this is a way to feel closer without actually getting closer, because closer is scary.  Because when we actually speak face to face, topics change.  It feels less safe, because truthfully, there was never a proper foundation built for this level of intimacy.  It is why I don't share a great amount about my life on my Facebook wall.

Want to actually get to know me?  Let's go do something.  Let's actually talk.

Otherwise, it just feels weird.  Also, with people you don't have this foundation with?  You need to be prepared for their reactions to what you have to say.  It isn't something you will ever be able to predict.  We all come from different spaces and backgrounds.  We have all had different influences.  Our perceptions are coloured by our unique experiences.  So often, when someone I barely know says they are an open book, and are keeping things real; sharing VERY intimate things with everyone they have accepted a friend request from and vice versa, I feel a little scared, and worried about that person.  I also often step back and wonder why they felt the need to tell me something so deeply intimate without actually knowing me, or anyone else that well.  There is such a thing as too much, too soon, at times.  I already know too much about my immediates!

But I suppose there are some good things about it.  I know a lot of funny people.  I get access to some cool things I may not have known about, otherwise.  I get to share funny things I see and hear, as well as my art.

Not everyone I have gotten to know from a distance has been annoying to me.  In fact, there have been cases in which I have enjoyed getting to know quite a few people in this way, and really would love to some day, be able to hang out in person, but distance keeps us apart, so it has to wait.  That's all fine.

It does act as a tool for communication at times... I have gained business, I have planned fun little outings and events, I have really enjoyed a lot of it, hence the dichotomy.  But... I sure can't spend my whole life on it.

And with that, I'm going to go buy some booze and hang out with a friend.


1 comment:

  1. I so agree with this! I have had to really cut back myself for all of the same reasons. Feeling falsely connected to people but not seeing them IRL, and also when seeing them IRL having it feel awkward....or even weirder, if I were to share the same things IRL with some those people who are sharing all that stuff on FB, having them react as if I were getting too close too fast. Um....okay? So it's allowed on FB but not in person. I don't know how to be with that.