Cards on the table. I've lately had the wishing-you-were-someone-else-that-was-somewhere-else-syndrome. It's new and strange, because I've never wanted to be anyone else before. I've often been quite happy with the way God made me. Not until I entered my 20s, lived in and left Chicago, started living alone, started getting sucked into social media, started watching 20-somethings take over the world, did I want to be something/someone else.
The Internet isn't the source of our problems. Our choice to let the Internet absorb us is the source of this particular problem. And loneliness has always existed. Like the following (beautifully designed) video suggests, the Western world sanctions individuality... measured by personal achievements and SELF IMAGE. You and I know this already, but it's good to be reminded of its sting once in a while.
The Innovation of Loneliness from Shimi Cohen on Vimeo.
Facebook profile pictures, tweets, restaurant we attend, followers we have. The video talks about a self-actualization ideal that, once it hits, "more and more people define themselves as lonely, and thus loneliness has become the most common ailment of the modern world."
"BUT WHY HAVE WE LET THIS HAAAAAPEN?" I groan. Why do we have to "effectively" manage our social lives, wherein conversation becomes greater than connection, instead of genuinely caring for our friends and friendships in real time. We get to edit, and we get to delete parts of ourselves. I've always been an editor that edits not only writing but conversations and comments and even thoughts, relationships, other people...this blog. We edit ourselves everyday. We edit ourselves out, letting our edited selves become ourselves. Hey, maybe I do more than you and maybe you're not so worried about it. But you have other ways, I know you do, you stinker, you.
Maybe we've completely warped the brilliance of what technology can do. Advances in technology certainly have positives. Look at people turning their efforts and hearts outward via social media, launching efforts to help others via Facebook and Twitter and Instagram and Youtube (I will not and will never include online dating here). And, yes, I finally admit that creativity can come in the form of Instagram "photography." I've denied that for so long...just like I've denied this all-too-common syndrome. And I probably will deny it again tomorrow.
We have a choice to use our tech-suaveness for really great things that have nothing to do with the stigma the above video presents.
In principle, being an individual is imperative to a colorful, continuously interesting, amazingly beautiful world full of creative and unique individuals, which is why the world -- of art and film and people -- is so lovely. But, individuality can be skewed depending on that choice I mentioned earlier, about the Internet...that choice we have to either absorb into ourselves--in this case, via technology--or to open ourselves up.
When I lived in Chicago, I faced decisions every day in which I could either help someone or pass them by. With a higher saturation of people, there are more obvious opportunities to help someone in need. In the recent rural areas I've been briefly, I haven't come face to face in the same way with these kinds of decisions. I suppose, in a way, the idea that these opportunities have to be obvious for us to seize them is complete dog shit. There are always ways to be there for others. I don't think social media is the best one of them. It makes us think we know people. I mean look at these poor girls:
I don't like acronyms, but, you know, WTF. But, I suppose there's also this from the WSJ:
...scientists now have a better understanding of why teens--girls in particular--become so passionate about some musicians, and the recording industry is far more adept at exploiting the phenomenon. Parents of star-struck "Bieliebers"--as fans are sometimes known--can be assured, experts say, that what looks like mass hysteria is a harmless stage in adolescent development. Long before the Beatles, Elvis and Frank Sinatra, frenzied female fans threw their clothing at 19th century pianist and composer Franz Liszt and fought over locks of his hair...
I would add that social media has joined the recording industry in its exploitations. But so, we've always been lonely. And we've always been fangirls/boys.
And, I suppose before I urge you to do something, I have to do something myself--that whole deciding against two hours of Internet. This means I have to stop being a social media fangirl and wishing that I could meet/salivate over Jack and Finn Harries, because I think I know them. (background: I showed up to subscribe to their Youtube channel, support their philanthropist efforts, wanting to get their attention, to know them, for my name to be on the list of their 3 million followers, because maybe somehow if I'm cool enough Finn will want to invite me to London to date him, then talk about beautiful design, then have deep conversations about existential issues. (How embarrassing my life can be right now, at 25, delusional, single, a disingenuous poser.)
I can do the latter two with you! Maybe the first depending on your gender. This is one of many examples that is evidence of our narcissistic millennial generation (just going to put it out there), absorbed by the Internet's corrupt tendencies to give us our inner fangirl...while we're the ones corrupting it. I also didn't come across this video about loneliness until I visited JacksGap.
In conclusion, don't be so hard on yourself, but do make the right decisions to meet old friends and make new ones in REAL LIFE. Because it's even more dog shit still thinking the opportunities aren't there in our tech-savvy world.
Just a reminder to 180 the lens, see the world differently, outwardly. What makes technology cool is how much we can use it to show others the world outside ourselves, to project some kind of difference or education to other human beings about the human condition, how to help others, how to support important causes, or how to explore perspectives. But, even greater than all of that is YOU and the things that happen before or after the lens clicks or before or after the browser window closes. So, don't wish you were someone else, somewhere else with Finn Harries (sorry, Finn). Be present where you are, even while you're "alone," with others. "If we are not able to be alone, we're only going to know how to be lonely."