I grew up in the dawning of the age of social media. The new paradigm of sharing your life, broadcasting it to the world, was normal for me. Looking back on my first few years of Facebook, a decade ago, can be a endless source of cringe inducing pictures and posts. Though this embarrassment is harmless enough, did going from adolescence to adulthood under the watchful eye of the internet do me harm?
I would say it did.
Facebook, Youtube, Twitter, etc… I participated in these with the reckless excitement of the discovery of a new toy. A way to communicate and share instantly with friends and strangers alike. Where previous generations looked to books, T.V. and movies, to inform their identities, my generation had a much more direct method. We compared ourselves, against each other. How could we not do so?
As I grew older, this measuring grew more intense, more damaging perhaps. Comparing lives with everyone, if subconsciously. It would be difficult not to find yourself lacking, falling behind. Every picture of of someone posing in an exotic location or partying in a club could leave you feeling like you were missing out. That you were a loser, living a dull empty life. Perhaps you would even feel odd, for not wanting what everyone else wanted. For not living the same sort of life as the cool kids on facebook.
And escape was near impossible. Social media is a pervasive part of my life, more than I would perhaps like to think. How many times a day do I go on Facebook? Or Twitter? It happens almost automatic, my fingers typing the address as though on their own accord. There is a drive to document my life, but what is there to document? What is worth sharing?
Lately, I find the urge to disconnect from it all is strong. You hear the stories, people deleting everything and simply disappearing from the internet. More free time, a clearer head, valuable perspective gained? All could be potential benefits from pulling the plug, stepping back. Yet the thought seems alien, almost unthinkable. It would be as if I would simply disappear. If I am not online then it is almost as if I am dead. I might not like it but social media and the internet are a part of me, I was raised on it.
Perhaps then, a more healthy mindset is need? I’ve heard many times to keep in mind that what I am doing is comparing my behind the scenes with someone else’s highlight reel. A picture simply captures a moment in time. It is hard to remember that everyone has struggles, unfulfilled wishes and wants. The grass is always greener and all that jazz. Undoubtably as I grow older I will gain perspective and hopefully peace. Yet I doubt that I will ever fully escape from it’s clutches, that I will always wish I was the one climbing that mountain or jumping on the plane.