I am back from one of my vanishing acts again (spoiler alert – get used to them).
Social media has added much value to my life. It has introduced me to many causes and aspects of the world I wouldn’t have known about. For instance, did you know that you shouldn’t refreeze ice cream? Doing this could cause Listeria to grow. I only knew this when I became an active user on Facebook.
I also learned a lot about conditions such as Autism and just how many people I know that have been impacted by Autism. I am blessed to know such wonderful parents who champion tirelessly for the rights of their children and to spread awareness about something so many people are ignorant of. The other day I was on the bus and a mother got on with her child. The child was making very loud noises that were agitating many of the passengers. Instead of casting judgement, I smiled and offered my seat to the the mother so she could sit next to her daughter. In that moment, I thought about two of my friends and cousin with Autistic children and wouldn’t want any of them to be gawked at or judged for being different. I am not saying the child was Autistic but she clearly was in distress. Having awareness has caused me to think twice before casting the beady eye of judgement. Facebook has enabled this.
But as great as Facebook and social media platforms are, they have become a drain on my wellbeing and sense of self. I have frequently have to check myself. I am also thankful that I am of Generation X, the last born before the dominance of electronic dependence.
Social media seems to encourage Hubris in hefty heapings of it. It is everywhere. We brag about everything – our homes, our cars, our kids, our jobs, our bodies, our vacations, our parents, our cousins, our grass, our clothes, our flaws. We obvious brag, we humble brag. It’s excessive and non-stop (I think that was a redundant statement – sorry). And when we try to call out bragging – we are bombarded with insults. I mean, people even use their charitable acts as a way to brag (“helped an old lady across the street today”#dogoodcomesbacktoyou #goodheart #imagoodperson). I wonder who these extreme braggers are trying to convince, us or themselves?
Look, confidence is great. I wish I had more of it. I’d sooner show off about the accomplishments of my neighbour than tell you I got a promotion last week (I did, by the way). Which is probably why I am so sensitive to the ills of social media but I really don’t want to raise my children (I am manifesting them into being) to either be super confident or how to be humble. I want them to be balanced! And social media and the traps that we have fallen into as a society make this really difficult.
We no longer do things. We do things to share them. We select activities based on their aesthetic, their Instagramable (is this a fucking word?) nature. I find myself increasingly annoyed by photos that are not crisp but grainy and of a DLR quality. My phone battery dies quickly because I often take photos in portrait mode to increase photograph quality.
We are moving closer to the movie Avatar. We generate alternate realities on these platforms when presenting ourselves. What is the purpose of these filters? Why do you need to look like a bunny, or a rabbit, or a dog? Why do some of you only post photos with filters applied to them? More dangerously, why are many of you applying filters to images of small babies, not even a year old? What does that teach that baby? That baby may grow to dislike their own image in a world that for decades has been telling women they need to lose weight, dye their hair, etc, and for centuries has been telling black women they need to bleach their skin or worse?
Social media is an awesome set of tools to share common interests, meet people, stay in touch with family, market businesses, waste time but is extremely dangerous. I encourage you to challenge yourself and the way you utilise it, the way you allow it to shape you and those around you, especially children.
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