I would like to believe we are more than our profile pages. That we are more than the superficial photo gallery that Instagram has made some of our lives into. A picture is worth a thousand words. What are they saying about us? Do those stills and videos we post say who we really are? Has narcissism become so interwoven into the fabric of modern life that all we do is try and outdo each other in pictures? There has been more pictures taken in the last five years than there have been taken in human history. It can’t be disputed we’ll be the most documented people in history. The human race’s digital imprint is now full of scantily clad women, ripped up guys, stacks of money, cats and the list goes on ad infinitum. Some people have become social media demi-gods and goddesses with millions of worshipers or followers. But where are they leading the followers? Others have millions of friends, but let’s be real who has a million friends? In life you’ll be lucky if you can find one.
The funny thing is some people’s self worth is tied directly to their number of followers. Their lives have become a reality show where they must keep posting in order to stay relevant to their friends and followers. While they stare at and comment on you daily. Thus creating a relationship for those that crave the attention with those willing to give it. It’s to the point where the lines of reality and virtual reality have become blurred if not nonexistent. These people spend their days trying to maintain the phony image they have created for themselves. Either they make life imitate art or be judged harshly by your peers and be banished to the netherworlds of cyber irrelevance, becoming prisoners of your own lies. There’s nothing wrong with idealism. The problem occurs when people can’t separate the actual from the ideal.
Let’s take a look at a teenaged girl going through those awkward years of her life. Those years when acceptance by our peers means everything. She bases true beauty on what she sees portrayed in the media and online. She sees the media goddesses and tries to emulate their look, style, mannerisms and so forth. She looks at herself in the mirror thinking that she’s not beautiful because she doesn’t resemble what the world is calling beautiful. She’s trying different things. Experimenting like all teenagers do. She then posts the pictures on social media seeking feedback while making comments that she feels makes her sound cool. Her social media “friends” start to make comments, but not the ones she was expecting. First there’s one hurtful remark then comes the deluge of negativity. Confirming what she thinks she already knew. That she wasn’t pretty enough. One after another the cruel jokes keep coming. The voice in her head is screaming “LOG OFF NOW!” She’s frozen, reading every comment, because she’s human, meaning masochist by nature. She goes to school the next day and the jokes continue. The cyber bullying has become real bullying. This story has many different endings some worse than others.
I prefer this ending. Some one was in her life to tell her that most of the people on social media are acting. That most of these people have make-up artists, fake body parts, no personality and are some of the most shallow people the world has ever seen. This real friend tells her that those pouty duck-lipped selfies look foolish. That standing in the mirror taking pictures of your butt with the filter on is trashy. All these people have going for them is their youthful looks and in time that will be taken from them. Right now it seems like the world is laughing with them, but when they cry they’ll be crying alone. If you took away social media who would they be? Their worst fear is not being relevant.
For all the people social media has brought together it has divided just as many. We have made some personalities larger than life. Not knowing or caring if these people are playing on our intelligence, or our need to believe in something to escape our mundane lives. Take Dan Bilzerian an online personality that has used mediums like Instagram to write his own legend. Is he really who he claims to be? Is he really a multimillionaire playboy that lives a life of models and luxury cars? At this point it doesn’t matter because we have made the myth real by believing his dream. Have we devolved into selfie taking exhibitionists who cater to the voyeuristic desires of the spectators on social media? Are we so empty that we need validation from complete strangers? Do we hate our lives so much that we envy the lives of celebrities, even if those lives are completely fiction? Must we share every aspect of our lives? Is nothing secret or sacred anymore?
When i meet someone I rather do it in person. The old fashioned way. I want to meet the real person not their representative. In other words not the uploaded version of them. Then I take a look at their social media profiles and pictures. I’m looking for consistency. These days people live multiple lives. I’m need to see if they love themselves. I need to know if they place the evanescent on a pedestal while disregarding what’s real and everlasting. Social media is probably our world’s greatest gift and curse. The potentialities for good and misuse are limitless. It’s like nuclear energy, it can power cities or completely destroy them. It provides a window for the world to look into our lives. We can laugh with or at people. We can vicariously live the lives of others. We can see what the world is doing. It has removed borders and given us an opportunity to truly become citizens of the world. Our triumphs, tragedies, best characteristics and flaws are all on display. That’s a lot of power. Enough power to save or destroy lives especially those with low self- esteem.
It’s sad to say but it’s like the shallow have inherited the earth. All this time i thought that it would be the meek. We leer, cheer, build up and tear down. Know who you are or people’s misplaced aggression will destroy you.If you know who you are their inner ugliness will never destroy your beauty. Always know what’s real and be real with yourself. Be real with others in your day to day interactions. No filter or Photoshop. Be a leader and real people will follow your example. Use social media for it was meant for, networking, sharing memories and moments with those that truly care for you. Not as a way to feed your ego or define yourself.