Currently Crushing On

7.12.16

Wanted for Crimes against Social Media

“You know, I think the people I feel saddest for are the ones who once knew what profoundness was, but who lost or became numb to the sensation of wonder, who felt their emotions floating away and just didn't care. I guess that's what's scariest: not caring about the loss.”  

- Douglas Coupland 




All by WALLIS


Outfit aside, I have something on my mind

Maybe it's this festive season, that seems so suddenly to be upon us? Perhaps this time of year always leaves me a little sceptical in the face of all this carefully timetabled affection? Maybe it's the endless braggadocio rammed relentlessly into our eyes and down our throats on social media like waterboarding? I read an article recently which stated that "Millenials" (I loathe that phrase) are now, as a generation, actively rejecting social media and I thought "It's about time." Many cited an unhealthy dependancy as motive for this change, we are quite literally living our lives through tiny screens. A whole generation mindlessly, ceaselessly set to "broadcast."  I, myself, identified my age bracket as being the "Guineapigs" for social media in a blogpost earlier this year and therefore this recent revelation was actually the inevitable conclusion that I'd been stumbling assuredly towards all year; that we are intellectually and emotionally sterilising ourselves   

It is this over-exposure which has led many of my contemporaries to delete their apps, instead opting to use their phone for it's most basic of primary functions, to make some phonecalls. These calls were made to arrange coffee or lunch dates, dinners or simply to chat away for an hour, listening to a voice instead of watching a trail of emojis appear. Like we all used to. A spate of quality face-to-face interactions in my own life recently prompted me to make an early New Years Resolution - to actively seek to spend more time with the people I care about. In person. Making a concerted effort to connect and be present in the moment with them instead of simply waving across the emotionally barren abyss of the internet. I find it eerily disconcerting that three, six, twelve months can slip by with little more than a handful of likes or comments sustaining friendships built on real shared connections and experiences. How can we claim to have any idea about what is going on in our friends lives if we only ever see them through a screen, instead of sitting across from us, making actual eye contact? How fragile and hollow would our friendships become if this was the future for us all

In the face of this frankly overwhelming discovery, I set myself the small challenge of ridding myself of Facebook. Guess what? I couldn't do it. I did try and believe me, if I could deactivate my account I would. It's not a medium I enjoy or diligently participate in, it's voyeuristic nature regularly instills in me a sense of hysterical panic that sends me scrabbling through my security and privacy settings. This probably strikes you as pretty unexpected considering that I make my living from the internet and that I've built my brand and business around it. Having said that, I don't publish every single detail of my life on social media as others may choose to. Those of us "lucky enough" to work in social media tend to have a greater understanding of it's power and are therefore naturally more suspicious of it's influence. Although never one to shy away from sensitive issues and shared personal experience, I have always managed to maintain a carefully curated balance between the openness and privacy that I need to stay sane. Besides which, I've spent enough time sitting in a hospital watching other people live their lives through a screen out of boredom to ever want to do it out of choice 

So why can't I delete it entirely? Two reasons. Ironically enough, because of my blog and the associated Facebook page which I regularly publish content through. Added to that are the geographical locations of  my extended family who like to see the occasional photograph of my daughter, one of the few functions I use Facebook for. Why should they be punished by my personal mistrust of something that for many of them is their sole window into the world? Although I could reasonably account for this, my inability to remove myself entirely from its clutches remained a niggling frustration. If I couldn't slay the beast entirely then I definitely wanted to limit it's impact on my life as much as possible

I started off small, ridding my Facebook "Friends" list of acquaintances, distant relatives, friends boyfriends friends girlfriends, people who's sole contribution to my life was a 10 minute conversation at a party in 2013. I removed myself from several groups and unliked a number of pages - hoping to at the very least subdue the tidal wave of information that entered my consciousness on a daily basis.  Then I deleted the app in it's entirety from my phone, leaving myself the option to upload critical comunique from my laptop during predetermined free time. I did all this and went to bed feeling lighter, more composed and happy to have made an early contribution to my 2017 mindset

But guess what?

People. got. mad. 

Not to my face, obviously - we're the social media generation after all. But via the little devices in their hands, of course. Messages pinged back and forth and anger built amongst those I had chosen to disengage with on a medium I had rejected. I was blithely unaware that I'd had so much of an impact until someone pointed it out. To assume that you are interesting and important enough to warrant the attention of people is one thing - Come on, I write a blog mostly about my own life... But I was being punished for assuming people wouldn't miss my minimal, slapdash contributions to Facebook as a sole entity. Alas, it turns out that unlike cutting gluten or dairy out of your diet, which frankly most people wouldn't give a F**k about, you simply cannot cut out interaction via a social platform. Not in a generation where intimate details of our lives have become the ultimate currency 

Two girls I'd deleted actively ignored me at a party. Despite the fact that I was sitting in front of them in human form, actively attempting to make conversation with them, looking to connect on a personal level. They could not move past the virtual relationship that I had terminated. If I wasn't their virtual friend then I apparently fell into the category of real life enemy. I don't think there could ever have been any clearer example that my move away from this sort of mindset was going to be good for me 

I thought for a while about trying to explain myself to them, the people I'd clicked "Unfriend" next to. But I knew that my theories about not wanting to live my life through a screen would be pointless. That any explantation of my actions would fall on to blank faces, eyes glazed from overexposure to artificial smartphone light. Perhaps if I had simply pressed "Deactivate account" they would have happily offered up polite smalltalk instead of turning their backs on me? Ultimately, the decision I made to limit the impact of social media on my life was a postive decision made for friendship and for compassion and for empathy. I don't want to be friends with people that will look at me through a screen but won't recognise me as a human being, even when I am standing in front of them asking to see me. I am so much more than photographs and statuses, likes and comments, electrons and code.
We all are. All year round

...


Further reading:
"Why Generation Z is going off the grid"
"Musings - Are we the lost generation?'


This post is a sponsored post in collaboration with Ideal World and contains gifted items. Please refer to my Disclaimer for further details.

3 comments:

  1. Love this post ... you said it so well.
    i too have contemplated leaving Facebook for a while now but I can never quite go through with it.
    Thankyou for sharing ( the outfits fab too)
    Tracey x

    ReplyDelete
  2. Such a powerful post Milly. I agree with every word of it. x

    ReplyDelete
  3. I totally agree with this. We live in an age where loosing social media means missing out - and I struggle with that concept, because I don't feel we should... Loving the outfit in the pics - you look beautiful x

    ReplyDelete

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