Social Media… A Necessary Evil…

4-up on 9-21-15 at 10.44 AM (compiled)

I use my phone for everything. I ordered Grace Jones’ latest memoirs with the Amazon App. I’ll FaceTime a few people here and there though it hinders me from doing other things with only one hand free. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, etc., can all be accessed on my iPhone. And when that Apple product is out of reach, I have an iPad and my laptop to fill the space of communication. I rarely make phone calls. I haven’t run over my minutes since High School. I interact more with family, friends, and associates online than in person and that’s kind of disconcerting.

It’s awkward and even more so whenever I say things like “I remember when we didn’t have cell phones”, it sounds like I was born during the Dust Bowls of the Great Depression. I’m 30 years old (31 in November) and I’m still young but old enough to have lived through the infancy of mobile technology, video games, the internet, and social media. Sometimes I feel like John Connor trying his best to maintain footing as Skynet takes over. I didn’t get my first phone until I was 17 and I was one of the only kids in my senior class with with a Sprint mobile device but in 2015, you have middle schoolers with iPhones playing Angry Birds 2 till ad naseum. They have no real need for these machines. What real purpose does a next generation cellular device have in the hands 13 or 14 year old besides contacting their parents or schoolmates? Not a damn thing. I’ve seen more and more teenagers get in trouble for sharing dumb shit on the net over past few years; High school fight videos, young girls posing explicitly, and other nonsense but the youth aren’t completely to blame for their indiscretions. It’s “Monkey See, Monkey Do” there are culprits in our generation that are bugging out all over the net.

My social network experience began in an AOL chatroom where the a/s/l was my key into meeting people in my age range and it allowed me to try and get closer to the opposite sex. I had more a few goofy screennames (Magneto309, Fishlion1, Wolverine5153) and all I did was unsuccessfully chase after the puerto rican girls from North Philly. Eventually, I found myself on sites like Blackplanet, Migente (Latinas!), and eventually Myspace and each site offered something fun and interesting at first but I’d always come to a point where I’d feel like I’m wasting my time. Every social network platform offers that initial high and then once it’s over you’re left with an awful addiction. I don’t know why I’m still “on the grid”. Facebook allows me to keep in contact with those that I can’t see in person and/or those that I don’t see as much. Twitter allowed me to share my blog and photography early on but now? It’s nothing more than a distraction. I had my fun with it. Met a few good people and even had a dalliance or two. But after a while, I discovered a disturbing trend: The Numbers Game.

It’s fascinating that in the land of Social Networking, human beings transform into mere integers. On Instagram and Twitter, you are just another number or “follower”. Am I the only one that’s a bit unsettled when being referred to as a “follower”. Everyone “follows” someone which makes everyone a “follower” and that makes me feel like we are all sheep. What’s downright bizarre is the attachment to what doesn’t exist. Do you know how many people get butthurt when you, as a freethinking person decide to unfollow them? All hell breaks loose. I don’t even know how they even find out but they do. There was a recent situation where I purposely unfollowed this girl that I only knew on twitter NOT IN REAL LIFE I repeat NOT IN REAL LIFE and she sent me a direct message asking why did I unfollow and “I thought we were cool”. We never hung out, you don’t know my name, you don’t know “where my mama stay”, so on and so forth so how could you be upset that I don’t want to see your tweets on my timeline anymore? When did it get that serious? So many people are fiends for attention. Instagram models strip down to the bare minimum just “for the likes”. Likes?! Come on! I have no problem with being proud of the body that you have but if you’re going post revealing photos of yourself, do it because you can and not for the attention of those that you’ll never meet just to receive an ego boost. I operate in the world of logic and sensibility but I realized that those rules don’t apply in a world where image surpasses personal merit.

I don’t need social media. The clickbait, watching people beg celebrities for a “follow back”, Shitty memes, families that offer nothing of importance to the culture but are celebrated for how dysfunctional they are, etc. Social networking unites people, allows us all to share ideas, collaborate and make amazing things happen. When social injustices happened in Brazil, Athens, and when #BlackLivesMatters here in the U.S. accelerated as a movement, it was Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Tumblr that was pivotal in spreading the news like wildfire. I don’t hate it but I’d rather it be used and not abused. But that’s the game isn’t it? For every pro, there’s about 1000 cons to come with it. I want to unplug myself from it all but I have this strange dependency with each platform and at times it’s pure sensory overload. I think I’ll start having days where I’l go without technology and see how that affects my ability to function.