I’ve never been good at making new friends. I struggle to connect with people on an emotional level. Hell, even mates I have known for almost ten years I can be a little awkward with. In high school I had a large group of friends but really I would only hang out with a handful of them. I’ve never really been able to fit in to be honest, and while my mates love me for the oddball that I am there’s always been the slightest of divide between myself and others. And then Facebook happened. Everything became so much easier. I could carefully consider what I’d say and come across as witty and clever as opposed to being the mumbling weirdo I am. Suddenly I had an audience at my beckoning, who in my eyes were on the edge of their seats waiting for my next glorious status update.
Fast forward five years later and I’ve got some serious Facebook fatigue. I see statuses like “Kevin got a new hat. Take that sun!” and think “The sun is the most powerful thing in our solar system, if it’s out to get you, it will fucking get you”, and “Who the hell is Kevin and why are we friends?”
When I got out to the pub or venture to ‘Da Club’ for a night out I always notice people on their phones, tagging their friends and location on old Facey. Why? It makes no sense to me. I’m not the kind of guy to preach we should all ‘live in the moment’ but I do think that if you’re going to be somewhere or with someone then that is where you should focus your attention. Writing a status that reads “Having such a good night!!!! Love these people xx” and tagging twenty of your friends is just pointless. Who are you writing for? All your friends are standing in front of you, and if you love them so much try chatting with them in person.
I won’t try and play innocent, I’ve written my fair share of obnoxious Facebook posts, each and every one of them an attempt to boost my profile and make people ‘like’ me.
Trying to show the world what a great time you’re having is just a little sad, and what is worse is that we live in a culture that propagates the belief that if you aren’t getting 100 likes per post then you aren’t really alive and what you do doesn’t matter. At trivia last week I noticed between each round everyone on my team would look at their phones instead of talking to their mates. How has it come to the point where I – who goes out of my way to avoid contact with people on a regular basis – is in the minority who feels uncomfortable with this way of living? It’s like everyone is the lady in this music video.
In August I stopped scrolling through my news feed. It was becoming detrimental to my mental health. One of the major factors that led me to stop was my ex girlfriend. For anyone who has read this blog before this will come as no big surprise. We had stopped speaking to each other, but I would always see her in posts and photos from mutual friends. Seeing images of her enjoying her carefree life and knowing she was happier without me crushed me completely. I deleted her, but by chance I’d still see something, like a photo of her pulling a dumb face, and that would be enough to send me spiralling into a state of numbness that would last for days. But instead of ceasing my social media trawling I increased it to the point where I was checking Facebook every 15 minutes to make sure that somebody, anybody, loved me.
And so one chilly August morning I sat on the train home, hungover as fuck after a night of heavy drinking with work mates and regrettably sipping burnt coffee. Automatically I whipped out my broken phone, thumbed the Facebook icon and started scrolling. After five minutes I realised that I hadn’t stopped scrolling and that I hadn’t read a single status. All I was doing was looking for something to entertain me for two minutes, some illusion of connection to another person to distract me and shake me out of my apathetic state.
“Enough!” I declared loudly to the shock of several small school children. “No more Facebook for me” I told myself. “Only to promote my work, no more scrolling for this guy!” I said. And for the most part I’ve stuck to that. Nowadays I only check social media as part of my daily routine as the Sub-Editor for the Happy music blog, and no word of a lie I feel so much better. I’m no longer seeing pictures of people in relationships or on holiday or playing with their dog and having my heart stirred by feelings of jealousy or anger.
But, as I got off the social grid I very quickly realised that I had created a greater distance between myself and others.
A few weeks back myself and my mates went to the Gold Coast for a fun boy’s weekend. On the Sunday night I got a text from my lovely, albeit violent, friend Zoe. “YOU’RE IN THE GOLD COAST!? ME TOO!” she wrote. I was confused as to how she knew where I was, but it turned out my mate Mitch had tagged me in a post which she saw. As our conversation progressed she asked why I hadn’t called her to hang out. How was I supposed to know she was staying down the road from us? To which she replied frustratingly “GAH!!! as IF you haven’t seen me being tagged in FB posts up here for the last 5 days!!! we could have hung out :(” *
What kind of world do we live in when we simply assume others will be aware of our movements by living every moment via Facebook? That is just a fucked up way to live. Honestly. People will ask me if I’ve seen “That video on Facebook” to which I will always blankly reply “No”, and before I can explain why they will look at me as if I’m some foriegner. Social media is no longer a tool to be used to connect with people, it is now a necessity to confirm one’s own validity and importance, and if you aren’t in the loop then you’ll be left behind. Even after my Facey cleanse, I’d still rarely post personal status’ in an attempt to make sure people know I’m still a cool, funny guy.
Even when I saved an elderly woman from choking in a restaurant, I made sure to write a status about it later so everyone would know what a hero I was.
Disgusting. I’m glad I was able to help that woman and that she’s safe now, but there was no reason for me to post about that. Let’s be honest, I did it for the attention. Not the life saving, the posting, duh. And the truly sad thing is that having such a positive feedback on my status was elating, even more so than knowing I had just saved a woman’s life.
What kind of world is this? Like the old “If a tree fell in the woods but nobody heard it” conundrum, I feel as if Shayen de Silva the entity is nothing unless there are several ‘likes’ attached to my words. We shouldn’t be living vicariously through other people’s lives. I know I don’t want to like someone else’s life, I want to like my own life.
*Zoe and I did hang out, drinking Sailor Jerry’s on our penthouse balcony until the sun came up, then I left her passed out on the couch there while I caught a flight home. I’m expecting my Mate of the Year award nomination any day now.
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