Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Yes, Yes, We're All Very Happy that You Had a Great New Year's Eve...

Social media, originally conceived as liberation from having to speak to other humans in person, has, in recent years, done what all things do when things become popular/ubiquitous:  it has turned into something that reminds us that human beings are ridiculous.

I logged into Facebook a little while ago (seldom a good idea) and as I was scrolling through a billion and a half pictures of people (most of whom I only sort of know) looking super-popular last night, and through a couple dozen status updates about how wonderful life was in 2013 and/or how many wonderful things await in 2014, I was struck by a single, comprehensive thought:  all of you are full of shit. 

The game nowadays is to create an online image* - a digital replica of your life, with the one important caveat that it must not be your actual life because most of your actual life is pretty dull.  You sleep through a third of it.  You spend a lot of time doing things that are routine and unremarkable (no matter how hard any of you try to convince me otherwise, I will never find pictures of meals you are about to eat to be interesting).  And if you think about it, most of the other stuff, the "big stuff," like jobs and marriages and babies, are all so extraordinarily common that really it's a wonder anyone on the outside bothers to care in the first place.  (Congratulations on being alive.)

Our online selves become caricatures...personal cheerleaders on overdrive, represented by flattering pictures and valued based on friend counts and "Like" numbers.

Who are all of us trying so hard to impress, anyway?

I don't know too many people who had a good 2013.  In fact, I would go so far as to say that for a distressing percentage of the people in my social circle, it was one of worst years, if not the worst year, of their lives so far.  I watched a lot of people that I care about struggle, and I learned how lucky I am through the support I received during my own struggles.

What I propose - for all of you and also for me - is that 2014 will be better.  It will be better because I'm saying it will be, and Wayne Dyer knew what he was talking about when he said, "When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change."

But in this extroverted society that we live in, there is constant cultural pressure to share what's "better" with your peers - with me, for instance, via your Facebook profile - as a marker of your personal success.

And I want to call bullshit on that.  Personal success isn't measured in social media posts, followed by strings of misspelled congratulatory comments.  It's measured in your actual life, the one that's mundane and sleep-filled (and sometimes involves end-of-the-year posts that were written a day late).  Maybe I'm not impressed by euphoric pictures of a night out because I have nights out all the time and I can guarantee you that the existence of photographic evidence has no bearing whatsoever on the integrity or wellbeing of the people in the pictures.  And rarely, if ever, is a posed photo representing anything natural.

I just sometimes think that we're doing ourselves such a disservice to buy into this one-upmanship that comes with having lives that are increasingly searchable.  We're far more alike than we are different, and in the game of life, the only person you're ever really racing is yourself.  As I look ahead to this fresh, new year, I'm trying to be conscientious of that.  More living.  Less image-crafting.
Happy New Year, friends. :) 

*Guilty as charged.


  1. whoooohoooo brilliant post :)

    Have a great one, too, my dear Becky

    Annie Sasha

    1. Glad you enjoyed! :D Happy New Year, my friend!!

  2. *Like*

    Happy new year.

    P.S. I read your book last month and enjoyed it

    1. I'm so glad you enjoyed it! Thank you for reading. (I very much respect your opinion, too, seeing as how anyone who would alert me to spectacular new/old Aaron Carter awesomeness *clearly* has impeccable taste. :))