subjectivity and social media
I’m 25 with a social media addiction.
These days that doesn’t really qualify as a dirty little secret, but there’s still a measure of acted out shame or backdoor denial people use when talking about their social media habits.
"I use Facebook, but only post good articles and pictures people want to see."
"I’m a big Pinner, but I actually do a lot on there in real life."
"I Tweet, but it’s not my life. Only like 3-5 tweets a day."
"I Instagram, but no food pics or selfies."
Tumblrites are really the only shameless users that I can think of, but a lot of that is credited to the mostly anonymous nature of Tumblr.
That’s where the social-scape of the internet gains momentum for me—when you can experience people outside the tiny circle of your friends, your town, your income, your same life.
Tumblr is expansive where Facebook is suffocating. There’s only so much of the same weddings, babies, ruminations on work, etc. that we can reasonably stand. Tumblr is the Wild West to Facebook’s picket fence split-level. Anything goes, and the net of expression is cast far and wide.
There’s a decent gap between real life social media (the kind where the players in your day-to-day can monitor what you’re posting) and fantasy social media (where you construct your own identity less constrained by the definitions of the labels your real life throws on you).
I’m not fond of these two terms (and open to suggestions) since the line between real and fantasy feels a little fuzzy when you’re talking about digital actions. I also wish the word “fantasy” carried a bit more weight. Our society gives fantasy an airy and useless connotation, but I think that fantasy social media becomes a more realistic use of the internet.
Why write on a wall of a person you could see? There’s more value in seeking out new artists or perspectives of people who will unfortunately never cross your path.
I don’t need repeat minds; I need to be able to hit shuffle and see/hear/experience something new.
When people say about social media that “you’re making your life seem better than it is,” I can’t help but wonder what else we’re doing with our time on this planet. There’s so many ways we dress up that slippery notion of truth even in our “real” lives. How we decorate our houses, our cars, our jobs, our bodies, our faces, our relationships—aren’t we trying to make some self-directed meaning out of the fact that we’re existing in a terribly difficult world? What’s the truth underneath all this?
Too often, I fall down a nihilistic slope of thinking about reality and find myself sitting at the bottom of a mountain of apathy.
That’s why too often my apartment isn’t decorated, my face bare, and my clothes picked without a second thought. Because too often I don’t feel like there’s the energy to dress up the truth and pretend that I’m more than another person with a shelf life. Ironically, it’s usually this downward spiral that heightens my awareness to the fact that if it doesn’t really matter then I can embrace truth and realness as subjectively as I want.
Because the truth is we’re all swinging from one struggle to the next and we rarely feel as grateful as the internet snapshots of our life make us seem. But maybe that small capturing of the ideal—the life you wish existed, the face you wish you had, the beauty in the world you wish you could always see—feels a bit comforting. And more than soothing, it’s a practice in self-definition. That’s a modern luxury that we shouldn’t take for granted.
Now more than ever, you can be who you say you are, not who the world assigns you.
Maybe I use too many filters on my pictures. But often, the bare image on my phone doesn’t capture everything you’re seeing like how that latte, dress, flower, slice of pizza, night with friends made me feel or even, more often, how I wish they made me feel. Both of these concepts are legitimate and worth expressing.
It’s true that you can’t construct real happiness through an iPhone.
I want you to be authentic.
But the kind of authentic that you’ve created with your own everyday decisions and your own definitions, not the kind that confines you to what is “real” and what isn’t.