I sat down to enjoy my tea and on this morning it took entirely five minutes less than usual before I felt my eyes make a hard roll to the left and I set my phone face down on the table before releasing a deep sigh into the tea cup now making its way to my lips. Just another day of the rich getting richer off of mediocrity in the game of social media where otherwise self respecting people throw out endless hollow praise and clamor for acknowledgement from their favorite insta-celeb. That eye roll is my signal for another self-imposed short break that will most likely go unnoticed so I can return to the outlet I mostly enjoy with fresh eyes. The numbers start to make them cross after awhile and I’m not even an accountant.
I was messaging with a friend recently who experiences the highly sought, but well-earned fame but not fortune of Instagram popularity and even she isn’t spared from the psychological impact of the visual tick of the numbers game. She earned those numbers by putting in the work and producing quality and creative content that wasn’t based on the superficiality of her naturally beautiful soft looks or what latest design trend she was mimicking. But still she sees numbers in the same place as the rest of us who mindlessly scroll in half zoned-out states. The numbers that announce to the world your worth that can vary day by day and are as fickle as someone’s good mood or bad day at work.
There’s a lot of talk about community but how genuine and deep lasting can that community be when it can be gone with the delete of an app or the tap of an unfollow button? Communities now built on a weak foundation of scrolling through carefully chosen hashtags and methodically liking every photo, regardless of quality, in hopes of attracting a follower in return of a thoughtless like or empty compliment someone leaves just for a click of their name. Is this really what we’ve become, is this now marketing and we are nothing if we are not constantly marketing ourselves? Giveaways and shout out competitions where we only give to get is the winning strategy? For many, the only way to become known is through slimy tactics until a certain number is reached when it becomes no longer as difficult to attract the masses. They’ll see an arbitrary number they deem worthy and assume it means someone special and worthy of our attention. But often they are rarely any more special than the lesser known quality accounts that refuse to play the game and are now crowded out and overshadowed.
If you have the numbers and speak out against the annoyances and degradation of social media and our values it is declared just another smart marketing tactic, if you don’t have the popularity, it’ll be dismissed as jealously for not yet reaching the fame you must be seeking. Because in a world of measurements in followers, people assume it must be one of the two and that we are incapable of looking at things critically and getting conversations out there — even about the very acts we find ourselves getting sucked into. Like a tiny crack in an airplane cruising at an altitude of 40,000 feet, that’s the pull of social media, it doesn’t always feel very good but it often feels futile to fight.
With everything in life, this is just evolution, soon this platform will be replaced by the next community that starts off full of genuine interaction and well-earned recognition then quickly spirals until we are even more hollow shells of the people we once were until we do that often enough that the only place to go is back to the basics of communication: with those face to face. Here I am on my own site knowing full well that blogs are almost a full decade past their moment in the sun and require an attention span that no longer seems to exist because sometimes it’s good to back away from the numbers and see just what you want and are able to produce when no one is looking. So I’ll write my thoughts here potentially into the void and laugh at the irony knowing full well my intentions of sharing it across some other platform with attractive hashtags. I am aware, but for now still another product of the machine trying to save me from myself. #noluckyet