My eyes flutter open in those first seconds of consciousness following the phase out of stupor and the memory of my unfinished dream, while still fresh in my mind, swiftly wanes away, out of my recollection. My eyes have not fully adjusted to the early morning colors trickling into my room from the open shutter, as my brain still struggles to leave its slumber state. But I have already reached for my cellphone.
Like neon road signs protruding an indefinite darkness, the notifications on my cellphone screen glare at me. I blame it on the time difference. Being six hours in front of your friends and seven in front of your family can make simple communication awkward. I wake up, a couple of hours after my friends have gone to sleep, and read over the last few phrases of our conversations, that which they have sent me while I was asleep. Then I reply, sending phrases back through the air to vibrating portables sitting on desks and bed sides in quiet dark rooms half a world away. They will also wake up to messages sent while they slept, messages that will be waiting for them, waiting to plunge them into the next vicious-go-round of the daily cycle. And they will read over the messages, and they will watch the disappearing snapchats, dissolving into the blotchy screen, like a memory — or a friendship; expunged by those two poisons nothing can survive; distance and time.
What am I looking for in those messages? For it is clear that I'm desperately searching for something, if not, why even bother to send them in the first place? But what is it exactly that I'm seeking for? What is it that I hope to find? And perhaps, most importantly, why does a foreboding feeling that I'm searching in the wrong place follow me around? Why do I keep doing something when I seem to know for a certainty that it is not what I want at all? Stimulus. Why else? What else?
My phone blows up with messages of people I do not want to talk to. And yet, I need them. The presence of the very messages is comforting, assuring, and provides that much needed validation. Validation I never knew I needed before I got introduced to the world of social media, before I fell into the vicious cycle of likes and comments. So I rummage through the heaps, sort through the messages. Some days there are so many, and it take minutes upon minutes to complete the tedious daily ritual. Some days it involves planning trips or recounting adventures, sharing stories and pictures and videos and laughs, or discussing new music or the latest football game, some days it involves superficial chit chat and other days momentous existential reflections. Yet the content doesn't really seem to matter, for the presentation itself is truly the thing that makes you come back for more.
How I hate that little screen. The way it consumes my time. The possible health complications it might bring. The falsity of talking to someone who is not there. The cheapness of pretending to be in a place you're not. The detrimental effects observing the lives of others has on living your own.
How I hate that little screen. The way it consumes me.
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But there are good aspects to social media, right? Like what about making your voice heard?
Social media empowers us. It gives us an outreach and a base like we've never had before, and it makes it more accessible than we could ever dream it to be. Social media, and the web within itself, allow us to cast our voice into the world. They give us a platform where we can voice our opinions, our political ideals, our knowledge, the lessons we've learned, a platform where we can push for social justice. We push for our dreams, we have them at our fingertips we know, it's simply a matter of typing them into a keyboard.
We talk about our individuality, about being different, and we show it whenever we can. On social media, and with our online presence. We share hashtags that empower us, that tell the world that we count too, and we put our everything into 140 characters we send out into a world we believe will listen. A world we believe will be inspired.
We are a generation unafraid to say what we think. Through social media we have found our voice. But if everyone is talking, who is listening?
Our voice becomes one more, it's meaning lost between the mounting vibrations of others, lost in the endless murmur of white noise obtruding everyone's ear.
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Our voices have never rung so loud… our voices have never felt such little impact. The prowess of individual voices getting lost into the common thread like the raging water of streams running into a mighty river, to become even more diluted when the river flows into the eternal oceans.
It's all a matter of perspective.
But today our perspective has found its birds eye view. Perhaps we can distinguish forms, passing through our oval window out of the airplane, perhaps our periscopical aerial vision can tell us this is a house we are flying over and that is a field. But it can't tell us the detail. It can't tell us the stories of the lives of the people within that very house, or their dreams and goals and aspirations. And even if it could, we wouldn't be interested in finding out anyways. We are a passive audience too worried about voicing our own concerns to let the "spam" that surrounds us affect us. The white noise. We simply dim it out, like a lamp on a cold night, let it turn down, fade out into the darkness.
We read texts of past eras and marvel at the complexity of thought. The letters intellectuals sent to one another in days of yore, the language choices of the men and women of the Enlightenment, they seem so complicatedly senseless, and take so much effort for us even to decipher. Who even talks like that? We asks ourselves. People from another era, one without technology of course, but one that hadn't been corrupted by its side effects, and particularly that one most hard hitting side effect of all, that which has left people feeling more content and more empty and more useless than any drug ever could. Instant gratification. Technology was created to better our lives, to make things easier, but perhaps we've reached the point where this is counter effective. When everything has become so easy that without technology itself we are useless, purposeless shells of the creatures we once were.
Perhaps it is time things should start becoming harder again. For today dullness has become our constant state of mind. Dullness engulfs us. And with it comes dilution.
Extreme dilution of the human spirit exists today like it has never been present before, in a world where humans would rather spend their time with machines than with each other, a world in which humans are themselves losing their humanity.
And so we reach the most ironic of paths, that which leads the crisis and angst of all minds today, as we find ourselves in a world that has never been so interconnected, where the opportunities have never been as limitless, where the entirety of human knowledge is at our fingertips, and yet, we don't know what to do with it. We've never been so connected, and we've never felt so alone.
What a time to be alive.