I’m going to be honest here, and hopefully something meaningful can be gleaned from this.
At the risk of sounding like a hipster, I’m getting weary of some of the aspects of social media. Let me be clear: I like Facebook, quite a lot. I think it’s a wonderful tool for connecting family and friends who would otherwise be very distant, physically and emotionally. But I’m noticing flaws in my friends and family almost every day, based on their activity on social media.
Everyone has flaws, that’s obvious, but sometimes the way a status is posted or a comment is shared can be a window into the type of person you are. I used to spend much more time on Facebook than I currently do. I would use my status updates to share some of the things going on in my life: how my grades were, how my shift went, what I just ate, etc.
And these things aren’t bad at all. They aren’t even annoying most of the time, except on those days when I’m feeling more than a little cynical. (We all have them, unfortunately enough.)
I actually like when my friends post things like that. It only registers for a brief second, but I’m happy that they’re happy with that delicious looking lasagna, or taking a random picture of a baby doing absolutely nothing.
Those status updates aren’t meant to entertain me. They have nothing to do with me. They’re just somebody else sharing a moment of their life with the world. That’s a beautiful thing, on a very broad level. You’re creating a virtual scrapbook page by page, every day of your life. This is a tool that we too often take for granted. We’re building something massive, and it only gets bigger as time progresses.
But overexposure to this new medium has opened the door for some less-than-desirable qualities of your personality to seep through. In particular, Facebook and all social media magnifies the preexisting vanity in everyone of us. We want our story to be constantly fresh, funny, exciting, and relevant. Every “like” we get sends a dose of endorphins flooding through our system. We feel accepted. This is an addicting process. So we continue to post little bits and pieces of ourselves, and we continue to be validated by our peers. The cycle is endless, and many of us are perfectly happy within it.
However, we should remember that the experience is what we treasure. Baking your first pie is a story, and if you decide to tell it to the internet, more power to you. But everyone has a pie story, and the story will always be most important to its author.
If you get too used to staying in the cycle, you will read many pie stories, and you may live your own pie adventure vicariously through someone else. That might be fine and dandy, but you’ll never truly know what that experience is until you do it on your own. And there are so very many experiences that you don’t even know about yet.
Share everything, if you desire, but remember that everyone is out living their lives too. Don’t forget to live yours.
Well, what prompted this stream of consciousness? The recent death of Paul Walker, to be honest. I’ve noticed that many of my friends are posting about it, some sincere, if not brief, condolences, some rhetorical questions like “who is this guy?”, and many cries for attention. I usually let these things fly, and go on with my life, but I do take a little time to stop when death is a subject.
Using someone’s death, even a celebrity’s, to bring more attention to yourself is despicable. I’m sure these particular updates are borne from ignorance, not pure spite, but that is hardly an excuse. If you don’t care that someone you don’t know is dead, that’s well and good. Do not brag about not caring. Do something interesting, make a post about your own life. Make a goddamn pie.
You’ll get comments, you may even get likes from other ignorant individuals, but you do not grow from this. You bring us all down when we see this update, knowing that people like you exist, choosing to use the latest shocking news story to bring as much attention to yourself as possible, without regard for the moral cost of your words.
I know, you have freedom of speech, you can say whatever you like, and you even may just be trolling for a comment war. But please, consider the world outside of yourself before you act. Make that first step toward being a true and compassionate human being, and I promise, you’ll find serenity along that road. And you certainly won’t be alone.