Antisocial media and the art of letting go

Posted on October 27, 2014

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Unfriending 300+ people is really an enlightening experience.

This evening, I have finally decided that I have too many friends. Virtual friends, I mean. I’m not exactly the social butterfly in real life.

On the introvert-extrovert spectrum, I lean more towards the introversion side. It took me years to finally accept that. I guess this is what prompted me to do The Great Facebook Clean-Up: the insatiable need to express without fear of judgement from people I don’t even know that well –  or basically just people I don’t feel like opening up to. That, and this epic instrumental version of “Secrets”.

You see, that’s the one thing that keeps me from posting too much on social media: anxiety. If I post something that shows off my feelings, people could end up 1) not caring, making me feel embarrassed for posting in the first place or  2) intrigued and then suddenly judgmental making me feel like a total social media-obsessed drama queen so I end up shaming myself for showing too much. Then again, if I kept quiet I’ll eventually go crazy and blow up. And in the case of expressing my opinion on current events, it would look like I don’t care if I kept quiet. As a UP graduate with a degree in journalism, this is a big deal for me. Then again I’m paralyzed by the fear of expressing an idiotic opinion that would seem like the kind of opinion people say just for the sake of having an opinion.

My solution? Unfriend. Limit the audience. Let go. It’s so liberating, it’s almost like therapy.

Fear, fear, fear, judge, judge, judge, envy, envy, envy. Is this really what social media has reduced us into? Self-absorbed, egotistical beings defined by selfies and personality quiz results? Why do we always have this need to post on Facebook or Twitter or Instagram that we went to dinner at BGC Taguig with Anna and five others? Are me and Anna less than friends if we didn’t inform our respective social media sites?

And why should we take seriously the fact that we got Butter Pecan on the “Which ice cream flavor are you?” quiz on some site? Are we less of a person if we didn’t get Mint Chocolate?

Getting back to the point, I think that we are letting our social media accounts define us. Each one of us has an online identity to maintain. We are what we post, that’s why we like Facebook pages of obscure artists we pretend to like. That’s why we check in at various swanky places with our equally swanky friends just to show the world that we are ahead of our game in life. That’s why we like our own selfies, and ask people to like them as well. We don’t want people to get the impression that we’re some loser rotting in a nowhere town. Social media is making us unconsciously compete with people who are obviously doing better than we are – or so it seems.

“It doesn’t matter what you look like on the outside. It’s what’s on the Internet that counts.”

Beach Sloth

Our social media accounts have latched themselves to our brains making them part of our subconscious. We are the documentation generation – the generation with the pathological need to tell everyone what the hell we are doing right now.

I can’t say what made me decide to nearly-denounce social media. Right now, I only use my accounts to browse interesting stuff and catch up with friends. And post once in a while. As someone with a fierce need to be connected to whatever’s relevant in the world, I admire people who can not care at all.

I’m not saying that people who post a lot on social media are lesser beings. I know some friends who post a lot of really good stuff – art, opinions, articles, etc. It’s really nice when a photographer is encouraged to show his work thanks to a lot of positive response. A girl who posts her selfies finally realizes how beautiful she is when a lot of people like them. What I can’t tolerate is unfettered narcissism and the tendency of people to shove their beliefs down people’s throats. And people who think that they’re always right. Social media can RUIN relationships as much as it can BUILD them. It’s scary to think that people have died because of social media.

“Simulation is no longer that of a territory, a referential being, or a substance. It is the generation by models of a real without origin or reality: a hyperreal…. It is no longer a question of imitation, nor duplication, nor even parody. It is a question of substituting the signs of the real for the real.”

Jean Baudrillard in “The Precession of Simulacra”

At dinner my mom told me something that pretty much prompted this whole blog post. She said that even though we are interacting with real people on social media, it’s not the real world. It’s a virtual world. Simulacrum.The Matrix. Social media’s purpose is to connect us to people but what’s happening is that people are turning antisocial (or, to be more politically correct, avoidant) towards people in real life because of it. That’s the paradox of social media. We can fight or fall in love with real people on social media but it’s nothing compared to actual face-to-face interaction which is becoming increasingly difficult to do thanks to (anti-)social media. Besides, it’s easy to fake everything on the Internet! Have you heard of Catfish?

I guess this is why I have decided to take a break from social media to the point of minimal usage. I guess I just don’t want to get too attached to my interactions with people in it. I mean, they may be real people, it’s just that the space we’re interacting in isn’t real. It isn’t real to me. I am a HUMAN BEING, not a robot or a thumbnail you can talk to using your keyboard. I guess I got sick of how fake it all seems to me.

Sometimes I curse the day Mark Zuckerberg had the initial idea for Facebook. But then again, I’m thankful that he did. Like it or not, poking our noses in other people’s lives makes life seem a little less boring. We are, after all, social beings. The day that social media dies will be the day the Internet dies. And the day the Internet dies will be the day the world ends.

P.S. To all those I’ve unfriended, I’m sorry, but feel free to add me again but make sure I’ve actually interacted with you and we can actually be acquaintances. Thanks. I’m not a snob, I swear.

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