I heard today that we spend, on average, two years of our life on Facebook. That doesn’t count Instagram, SnapChat, Twitter or any other popular social media forum, nor email. This statistic comes from Matt Cutts, Administrator of the United States Digital Service.
I love social media. I’ve always understood it as a connecting tool, a sociology experiment, a photography and writing platform and a free promotion tool for small businesses. And while social media proffers many damning considerations, this post is not about those.
I’ve retracted from using social media as often, for many reasons I won’t go into here because they’re boring. Mostly, I’ve felt a hollowness that’s new, and I’m observing that closely…not analyzing it, just observing it.
It’s clear to me that with our posts, we are painting and sharing ourselves and our stories. We are curating a reflection of our highlights and lowlights, and reaching for connections. We are also maximizing our hustle, so we can feed ourselves and our pets and/or children.
And while we spend much time blathering on about inauthenticity and narcissism, those are judgments based in our own compulsion to compare our curation to others. Human nature, right? It’s not about the other person, it’s about us. And when we start to edit another human’s story, we’ve overstepped boundaries. We’ve also taken the bait we claim to be remonstrating.
Again, we’re not stepping into the darkest shadows in this post, though I feel compelled to say, since humans cast shadows, so does our social media. Essential question, then: Should children be unsupervised on social media? Do we trust our relationships with our youth enough to cast them into these waters expecting reports on what they encounter? I digress.
Our media curations are beautiful. They are odd and eccentric. They are labile, hostile and overflowing with love. So are we.
When we accuse people of narcissism and fuss on about the uselessness of these tools, perhaps we are really saying:
- I’m wasting my time on this tool.
- I don’t really like this tool, but I’m using it anyway. Sort of like, These chips are stale, oh well.
- Or even, Why can’t I stop peering into my neighbor’s windows, and why isn’t he wearing a shirt in there?!?
This brings me to PART TWO:
Why does the guy have to wear a shirt? Why can’t we eat our stale chips in peace? Why can’t we curate our own highlights and lowlights and stories and paintings of self? It’s a logical question.
Some of us live with our curtains open. Some close the curtains. Right?
When we want the advice of others, most of us are direct in asking for it, but there is no shortage of unsolicited advice in this world. Here, we are all Jackson Pollack, painting one another with our own visions.
We forget that our co-conspirators in humanity are definitively capable of finding their own ways to apply the paint; that they are at least as capable as we are. Maybe it’s because we’ve forgotten that we are the narcissus. The painting doesn’t look right to us, so we must intervene. We don’t trust them to handle their affairs. Or more insidiously, perhaps we haven’t secured our own senes of competence, so we keep practicing assertion onto the canvasses of others.
It’s funny how the person who hasn’t mastered something might unintentionally splatter it about. We do! But eventually we grow weary of cleaning residual splatter.
As our souls roll over these words and they mull through the grooves of our thinking parts, maybe there are bits of truth in each variation. It’s possible our worst fears are true, and that no matter how hard we try, we are each destined to be insufferably flawed and human. It’s possible.