Watching ‘Look Up‘, the latest YouTube sensation by Gary Turk, I’m reminded of just how much our lives are influenced by technology. Not only technology, but the hundreds of thousands of little people that live in our devices, our social media networks. Over 39 million views were received by this video so perhaps we are all identifying with the same issue, the ongoing battle of balance between real life and living in the interwebz.
I remember getting my first MySpace page, jazzing it up and for the first time putting myself out there on the internet. Keeping up with my favorite musicians online and finally bridging the gap between my insignificant life and the rest of the world. Global society was so close, I could almost reach out and touch it. Friends were mouse clicks away. MySpace truly was my little spot on the internet, my tiny little 10011011 on the worldwide web.
That’s the beauty of the internet. On MySpace, you could be anyone you wanted to be. Perhaps a shy, antisocial female in the outcast circles of reality but online, a beautiful girl with popularity matched by none and great tastes in everything. Welcome to the internet, welcome to your new life, enter the world of the digital alter ego… Dum dum dum.
We now live in a world where MySpace was the tip of a Titanic iceberg. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Foursquare have all become part of our daily routines, to name but a few. The fact that you’re reading this means you clicked on my blog link from my share on Facebook or Twitter. Possibly searching key words on Google or scrolling through your followed bloggers on WordPress, a blogger yourself. Each one of the 39 million views of the Look Up video were online, through any of the above social media sites or YouTube directly. The internet and social media does not make it possible to live, they do however make it possible for me to live as I do now. Openly, in view of social network eyes and public scrutiny. I choose this, I created all of these profiles.
Unfortunately, along with freedom of speech and public living, social media came with a very long list of negatives. Privacy? Non existent (though, you’re not forced to have public profiles). Dissociation. Because, why would anyone need real people when the ones in your phone make so much more sense? Crime. Sadly, criminals will always find a way in and so the internet opened up thousands of doors. The list continues and we could be here discussing negatives all day, sadly the one negative bothering me today is not as serious as any of the minuses listed above… It delves a little deeper in to the human condition.
It’s saddening to me that social media is used in the fake ways they’re used today. You’d think that with the access we’ve been given and opportunities available to us through social media, we’d be using them in more of a truthful way? Alas, no. In fact, isn’t it frustrating how every friend on your Facebook page has the perfect life and relationship. Every Twitter handle a positive one (barring the anonymous ones). Every Instagram picture beautifully manicured and posed and every meal posted, a gourmet one. While being as active as I am online, I do have friends and relationships in real life. Like everyone, I have concerns and hang ups and problems. For every good day, there is a bad day. For every posed #nomakeupselfie, there is a bad acne day. I am human. What is sad to me is that people, society, friends and family choose to portray another life online, a life of perfection.
I am not one who enjoys breeding negativity, I really am not. I’d also probably complain if everyone on my timeline was constantly negative and pessimistic however, I’d like to see a little bit more realism online. I wish people would be more honest.
I know people in real life that constantly whine and fuss, in fact nothing in their life ever goes right in their books and anything more than a grimace is fake. I struggle to understand how those people are the ones posting positive meme’s, poems and updates online. Who are they fooling?
I know individuals that hate their spouse, hate reality. These are the people posting hundreds of happy photos with their partners and overly compensating on their Facebook walls.
I haven’t seen friends in reality for years and yet year in and year out, we wish each other for our birthdays and continue to stalk each other without actually having to see each other… This is sad to me, in fact it’s disappointing.
There is nothing wrong with spending a quality amount of time online, update your status three times a day or tweet a thousand times this year. Update all three meals of the day or check in online at the office if you must. We are all guilty of trying to portray our real lives in the best and most positive light but again I must remind you that we are all human. If you’re having a bad day, don’t be afraid to say so. It’s only natural, isn’t that what social media is about? Sharing?
Recently, I decided to take a chance and put two of my controversial blogs onto News24. Why did I do this? The truth is, though you’d hope people closest to you would be honest with you, this is not always the case. Friends and family may not agree with your opinions, but to keep the peace these views won’t be aired (Not saying this is true in my case or speaking for anyone, this is a general observation). I thought the best scrutiny to receive was from those who didn’t know me, who could judge me on my honesty and opinion alone. This exercise was a pretty disheartening one, I received over 7000 views online and yet between them maybe 5-7 positive comments and the rest were nasty, angry opinions. At first, this upset me. On a closer read and given more thought, it occurred to me that a lot of these people are those that portray happy fulfilling lives online but perhaps experience repression in reality, everyone needs a release right and their lambasting of my blog was exactly that. Or perhaps they’re going against everything I’ve said in this piece, they’re negative online and off and I’ve just chosen to befriend the correct people. Who knows..?
Back to the point. It’s not enough to be digitally social for me. While I am notoriously active on social media (having received criticism for this in the past), I have a life offline. It’s not perfect. I go through challenges just as frequently as everyone else, but I’m honest about that life (read my previous blogs if you’re unsure of my honesty). I’m not asking anyone to be negative unnecessarily. All I ask is that you be mindful of hypocrisy, chances are if I know how you act in real life, I’ll see straight through your online facade… As will others.. Or maybe that’s what you were hoping?