Social Media & The Great Mirage


Minutes of scrolling, tapping, and waiting for the occasional ping of self-gratification from a like melt into hours of cyber profligacy.  You’ve been glued to the couch, eyes fixated on the palm of your hand, not realizing that you’ve wasted half the day staring into utter meaninglessness.  

This rings true for social platform patrons across the board.  Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and many more have forged a world filled to the brim with inauthentic displays of attention-seeking behavior—and many people behind these delicately crafted posts oft feel the need to feed their self-worth through these outlets, which only chaperone false hopes and increased narcissistic tendencies, leading to something users may not have been expecting – decreased sociability.  The “social” in social media, in turn, is made out to be a delusion.  Social media doesn’t foster a social world, it slowly destroys it, lifting a new digital world from the ashes, where life’s treasures beyond the screen are truly lost.

In some cases this isn’t entirely our fault – our addictive inclinations are flooded with feel-good chemicals that permeate from hours of immersing robotically into these code-spun worlds of posed pictures and edited bodies—especially active while receiving attention on our own artificial accounts, photos, and tweets.  Marketing powerhouses run studies on how humans behave with digital exposure and then use those results to perpetuate their businesses—this is the exact guise behind social platforms.  They take a weakness and amplify it to their own benefit, leaving our humanity in the dust.

But how much of this loss of individuality is the responsibility of the creative directors and marketers, and how much of it is up to us?  Blaming these companies wholeheartedly and victimizing ourselves to downright helplessness isn’t conveying reality.  It’s only widening the mirage of these empty, fabricated personal podiums.  We are ultimately in control of the lives we are living.

A general sense of connectivity shepherds many to these platforms.  Staying intertwined with old friends, tapping into their lives, and displaying our own personal “updates” is a goal for some.  Some keep their friend count confined to real, non-digital “friends,” some keep profiles private for the viewing pleasure of their true social network, and some are only disclosing photos of their dogs or six-too-many cats.  But for many, it’s not about keeping with and fostering genuine connections.

It’s been found that an overwhelming majority of people are spending more time scrolling and communicating through these platforms than actually spending time having real conversations with the non-digitized world.  The incessant vainglorious aspects of social media aren’t actually making us more social.  Rather, it’s encouraging us to put up a wall between actual communication and hole ourselves up in our barren, desolate lands of attention-seeking desperation.

Kids turning to social media at a young age are having increased difficulty stringing sentences together and holding concise conversations.  In empty space or lapses during exchanges, people—not just kids—dive for their phones and plaster themselves to their screens.  How many of you have witnessed entire tables of friends at restaurants on their phones rather than conversing with the loved ones right in front of their faces?  They’re lost in the mirage, transfixed by the contrived paragons of people in the social scape and themselves—their best side, angles, words, and more.  The beauty of reality, what’s right at their fingertips, is drowned out by a steady flow of fictitious stories.

And this world is not just creating an unsociable atmosphere; it’s a harbinger of flawless, incomprehensible, impossibly fake beauty.  iPhone and Android apps have made it easier and cheaper than ever to erase flaws, filter out pores and wrinkles, tighten stomachs, create impossible waistlines, and add kindling to the beauty-obsessed world, creating a domino effect of men and women feeling the need to keep up with the new status quo by using these filters and apps to match the millions of other unachievable looks rolling through feeds.  It’s a propagation of fake standards, sidelining real beauty and making our true selves seem less fascinating.  

And the cycle of intended perfection goes on and on until every last flaw is destroyed.  It’s flawless magazine covers all over again but at record scale, with each individual possessing abilities of perfection, all in the palm of their hand.

The world doesn’t exist in a screen.  Truth doesn’t lie in an app or a filter, and being a success in social media means nothing if you don’t make real contributions to your world and community.  Sacrificing our humanity for a mirage that means nothing is a life never truly lived.  So next time you’re scrolling, Look up!

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