The world has never been smaller in my lifetime. Connected worldwide, potential lovers a swipe away, instant messages at your fingertip and all this for almost no cost, or so we might think.
The exciting raise of digital communication in the 90s
When the internet appeared on the world stage in the 90s, the introduction of email changed the way we communicate for ever. A small step that initiated a revolution. I was an early adopter and the feeling of being able to send messages to people in other timezones was exciting. I remember sending my first emails to likeminded people around the world. The adrenalin rush when you hit that send button. In my old yahoo mail I still see my first messages from those days.
WEB 2.0 and the introduction of social media
In the beginning of the new milenium the Internet morphed into the second stage 2.0. With that the era of social media began. A good friend of mine insisted for weeks to join facebook. I finally gave in around 2005 to see what the fuss is all about. It was a lot of fun in the beginning, finding and reconnecting with people that I have lost touch.
Even distant relatives on the other side of the globe appeared. I never shared much online and was mostly lurking in the background reading what people had to say. A few years later I realised that the postings and pictures in my news feed mostly annoyed me. I asked myself why am I reading about irrelevant happenings from people I hardly know or care about. The constant smiles and exotic locations reeked of desperation to represent something that was far from reality I felt.
After that realisation I quit facebook and never looked back. The first few days felt funny as I was missing the mindless news that annoyed me for such a long time.
Quantity over quality
But I was happy to be able to avoid the constant bombardment of irrelevant updates. But in the meantime, companies also joined social media. Today there are honey traps every where individuals and corporations trying to lure you to their social media presence. The social aspect of it all became more and more antisocial.
It sometimes feels like I am a garbage truck that is constantly being filled with waste from other people. But I don’t want to be a garbage truck, I want to drive light, under the radar and with not much attention around my person.
For a couple of years now I stay away from social media and I sometimes ask myself if I am being unsocial? I don‘t feel I am missing out much tho.
I never felt the urge to share my life with strangers or seeking their approval. Therefore I have a hard time understanding people who burden me with their deeply personal issues. But this became a global trend while isolating people more and more. The connections people make require no time investment or commitment. Once you want to move on that option is a click away. And every time you do that, the tolerance for another person is lower. Connecting deeply with another person becomes impossible.
In the meantime a new generation is growing up that did not know the time before the WEB 1.0. This generation always had everything at their fingertip. Yet they seem to be plagued by unhappiness, anxiety and depression.
This is the result of the constant connectivity that leads to people comparing themselves 24/7 to the rest of the world. Naturally you look at people with more material wealth and if you do that for a while you feel miserable. You probably have a good life yourself but the never ending comparison breaks even the strongest. After some time you start to believe that you are missing out.
For people like me that know how it was before the digital revolution, the obvious conclusion is to take it easy or step away. But for people that don’t know anything else this is difficult to figure out. Most of their “friends” are only reachable through social media. Quitting that medium means alienating yourself completely. The small world suddenly can feel vast, empty and cold.
Back to the basics
When I have doubts about anything, I often find my answers when I think of my grandparents. How did they live, what did they do and how did they survive without all the stuff we have? Moderation is mostly the answer. My grandparents endured a world war, food was scares and options were limited.
A reminder about the shortness of life and insignificance of our existence also helps. Who am I to complain about anything anyway. There are millions of people on earth that suffer under severe conditions. If you have enough food and a roof to sleep under you are settled in my book.
Social media can be a powerful tool that has to be handled right. If you are not able to use that medium in moderation it is best stay away from it. Otherwise you just support the antisocial media and the pandemic of sharing it all. Stay safe my friend.