As an art major, I’m required to carry art supplies 10x the size of me, which gives me a great excuse to take the shuttle back to my apartment instead of walking. Tonight on my ride back from class, it was quite full, so I squeezed into the only seat left between two guys I didn’t know. I didn’t have a free hand to pull out my cell phone, so I sulked about not being able to scroll through my Twitter feed for the 5 whole minutes of the ride that I had to endure. I just had to sit and stare at the the person sitting across from me, which should be fine, considering they’ll never look up from their own cell phone long enough to see me staring.
Being the nosy, and don’t forget easily bored, person that I am, I couldn’t help but peek over at the cell phone of the boy sitting next to me. He was texting a girl whose contact contained a heart eyes emoji, presumably his girlfriend. Her text read, “And what do you want?” He began typing, “I just want you to be happy.” Aw that’s cute, I thought. My favorite thing is to see guys interested in their girlfriend’s happiness. I looked away for a little so as not to seem creepy, and then finally when I refixed my eyes onto the phone, he was going through his personal Instagram likes and unliking certain racey ones. When he finished, he screenshotted the picture, and sent it to his girlfriend with the caption, “And that’s all of them, I promise.” Oh, they’re having a social media fight.
I thought about it my entire (but short-lived) walk from the shuttle stop to my apartment. Did she see something on the follow feed that she wasn’t okay with? Did she want him to prove that he was Instagram loyal? Was she worried that he wasn’t liking her photos while still liking other girls photos instead? What was that all about?
My favorite rapper/spoken word poet George Watsky wrote a song called Tiny Glowing Screens, Part 2. In it, he gives us insight into his mind and the way he compares himself to the vastness of the world and how he is just one person out of 7 billion, 46 million. Having listened to the song countless times, I decided to look up the lyrics just to check out the parts that I didn’t quite catch at first, and right then a few lines caught my eye.
He says, “But don’t paint me like the good guy ’cause every time I write I get to choose the angle that you view me and select the nicest light”
His words left me at a loss for my own words.
Could this be insight into the way we use social media to gain confidence? Do we validate ourselves on likes? We edit and edit until we’ve found the perfect way to represent ourselves to the people we know, but get upset when there’s barely a response to the post that we worked so hard on to relate to our audiences. I mean like too upset.
And so I came to a sad, but true, conclusion.
SOCIAL MEDIA is potentially turning us into emotional terrorists.
I had to take a step back for a moment and think. That couple that I discovered on the shuttle, their fight was ridiculous, right? I mean she literally made him show her his artificial loyalty by sending a screenshot of his likes, which I SAW him edit. And all for what, so she could put her Instagram-related emotions at ease? Was she so worried what people would think of their perfect relationship if people saw that he had liked a couple of booty pics? I thought back to my recent past relationship, and how social media had a hand in pretty much every little fight that occurred. Perhaps he had liked another girl’s selfie, or never posted pictures of me, or didn’t even reply after I @ him in a tweet. All of these ridiculous things were somehow controlling my emotions and making me crazy.
How many times have you texted a friend telling them to go like the thing you just posted for fear of looking silly without any likes? Or given someone three different photo options to help you choose which one would look best for your profile picture?
It’s dominating our feelings and, above all, our relationships. It’s ruining us, turning us into monsters.
Why are we letting it?
Why do we shape a different persona on the internet than the one we represent in person everyday? Why do we emotionally wreck ourselves if someone doesn’t like our posts or forgets to reply to our tweets?
Please, please, please step back for a minute and remember, what matters in the end is your actual life, not your life through the eye of a lens. I am by no means at all, telling you to stop sharing your life with your friends through Facebook and Twitter, but don’t make it a priority.
We all need to spend a little more time worrying about ourselves, and a little less time worrying about our next Instagram post.
“And if we could see how small each one of us is
Against the vastness of what we don’t know
No one would ever audition for a McDonalds commercial again
And then where would we be?
No frozen dinners and no TV
And is that a world we want to text in?” – Watsky, Tiny Glowing Screens, Part 2