To Be Someone
Everyone has a weakness.
The need, desire and thirst for adulation. To matter. To be appreciated. Here we are in the all-encompassing Internet, the great Colosseum of thought and expression. No matter how frivolous or profound the content. Everything you wanted to know or didn’t want to know is here one second and gone the next recorded for posterity whether it’s intended to be or not. It seems it has become somewhat commonplace to place the source of the ills plaguing society in general on the ‘net as if by wishing it away, all our problems are solved. No more world hunger. No more income disparity and gender wage gap. No need for Black Lives Matter. No more internet porn. We know better than that, don’t we? Right?
Instead something as simple as a photo of one’s smiling grandchildren or a tweet from our current Chief Executive bleating about Saturday Night Live ratings, our need to matter, to have an audience is now just as evident as the message we hope to convey. This is the reality we’ve built, the reality we exist in, the matrix, if you will, that we will prosper and fail in. It’s so easy to forget for a moment that there are so many in this country who are too busy surviving to worry about such trivialities. That fact is lost on so many of us since their numbers aren’t represented as much on Facebook unless they are the ones we are posting about for a day before moving on to something else more pressing, more immediate.
I don’t mean to be a Debbie-Downer at all. Just relaying some casual observations I’ve recently made put down in virtual ink. Speaking with friends on Facebook Messenger and text long enough to have worthwhile discussions and the one constant I find is how exhausting it is to keep up in the digital rat race. A party tonight. A show here. A show there. An opening that I missed a week ago that I have to be reminded of with photos fanning the flames of the dreaded FOMO. It’s maddening. A post on Twitter, Facebook or Pinterest is a fragment of my soul that I am sharing with everyone, anyone. A single like is affirmation. Fifty is a good start to my day while two in a span of a few hours is an excruciating, irreparable blow to the ego. Until of course, the next time I dare to post and the ordeal begins anew.
Too often the common platitude du jour is to blame this on those darned Millennials as if they alone catapulted Mark Zuckerberg to billionaire status well before he turned thirty years of age. We’re all guilty of it. We’re all slaves to the like and the re-tweet. It’s understandable. It’s tangible and direct. It’s there for the masses to see and consume and we did it all in the friendly confines of…anywhere we damn well choose. Even if it’s to the dismay of anyone in our way while walking down the street.
At the end of the day, I suppose what I’m saying is that it’s astonishing to me how little has changed with the evolution of ‘instant everywhere’ that began with the dawn of television. The need to escape and to transform our lives into something. Not always for the better but just different from our current experience. It’s our great weakness. It’s our original sin. The internet allows for infinite opportunities to reinvent ourselves into a digital simulacrum for incredibly easy consumption. It’s so easy to literally be anyone we want to be if we craft our Facebook profile just right. It’s become de rigeur to do everything in our power to focus on the facade we craft on a computer screen at the expense of being a better version of the living, breathing person we see in front of the mirror. This is my truth, now tell me yours.