Alike, yet Askew

It is after the passing of several months in a new place that one can stop focusing on all that is going on around oneself, and realize that other people’s lives are changing as well. People get married, or move house, start new relationships, or do something completely unexpected. For me, I have noticed a lot of changes in the last few weeks, causing me to look back at what has happened in the lives of my friends whilst I have been in Korea. I was staggered by how much has gone on whilst I was too busy trying to wade into Korea and its culture.

In our current age of immediate, ever-present social media and information, looking back on my friends’ lives has been eerily easy. I have browsed photographs of weddings and honeymoons that I had no idea were even imminent. I have peered through years of profile pictures, thinking to myself that some people change remarkably little, while others morph into completely new people through the passing of time. Someone that has always been known as clean-shaven is nigh unrecognizable with a full beard. The reverse is also true.

These unprocessed changes (or lack thereof) lay everywhere in my Facebook feed. In the past, I would have been able to keep up with the myriad of happenings in the lives of almost every single person that I was connected to. Now, I am boggled by trying to keep up with even a handful. I think that my inability to keep up is a combination of a number of factors.

Firstly, I simply do not have as much time to keep up with everything happening in the digital world. Between my full-time job, my volunteering at GosuGamers, freelance writing, and generally trying to keep my mental health within acceptable boundaries, I have far less time to sink into Facebook than I had when I was a bored student with hours of free time.

Secondly, I have become a little disillusioned with the platform and social media in general. It is certainly a superb way to connect with people on the other side of the world. I have managed to keep message conversations with people I would otherwise have lost touch with. Looking at a person’s feed is a decent way to see what they’ve been up to. For most of you, my doting readers, my Facebook feed is how you keep up with when I post a new slew of words. It is a necessary part of our everyday lives. However, it is also a dangerous, vacuous pit where one can lose hours and one’s happiness or ability to feel anything, simply by staring at selfies of those around you.

This is linked to the third reason I use social media less than I once did – the ratio between valuable content and superfluous content has most definitely lessened, meaning that one must invest far more time in order to find something of value than one used to have to. What was once a bright star of connection to one’s peers has swollen into the beginnings of a black hole of narcissism. It has become much easier to post one’s entire life experience onto Facebook, from photographs to documents to sharing that great Buzzfeed link to those around us (#7 will BLOW YOUR MIND!). While the sheer amount of content on Facebook makes it easy to track changes in the lives of those we care about, it is also easy to become overwhelmed by the depth of life going on around us. Or to see hordes of selfies. Even this post is an exercise in narcissism – I write what I am thinking, hoping that people will notice and click an arbitrary button and validate my thoughts.

Social media helps us keep together. It has been great to scroll through the slideshow lives of my friends as projected through Facebook. Keep posting things. I like seeing things, and so does most of society these days. But before you post, consider the value of what you are posting. We love you, but do we want to see another just-woken-up selfie? You decide. We’ll all see it all anyway.

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