Social media is absolutely frigging exhausting.
Every morning I wake up, and it’s competition time. ‘Ping’ goes the phone – who’s been nominated for a prize today? ‘Ping’ it goes again. Who’s poem did what where? ‘Ping’ a third (or gazillionth) time. Was that a prize I didn’t even know about? Did I miss it? Yes i did! Someone else won it, oh bugger oh christ…
I’m using the world of poetry as an example merely because this is the world I love and am involved with. And I’m as guilty as the next person for ‘sharing’ my wonderful news when I have it.
But social media sharing, isn’t really ‘sharing’ is it? It’s rubbing what I’ve got, and you haven’t, in your face.
To share used to mean: to divide, apportion, to give.
Now it means: to give access. More specifically, access to all the brilliant things I’m doing, and then a deeper access to the inevitable realisation that you are in fact, not doing them. And perhaps should be.
And then you ask why you’re not. You doubt yourself, question your worth, your abilities, even your creative path, over and over again. Day in day out. And why? Because this sharing from the ‘alls wonderful’ corner is pretty much constant, and an addictive act, both for the giver and the receiver. Inevitably, it becomes all-consuming, chipping away at your perception of the genuine patterns of life and the ‘real’; from the positive success filter.
A painful and unhealthy way to live, particularly when every day turns into a self-assessment. Not of the ‘self’ in relation to what you may have written for example; but in relation to other people and what they’ve achieved. You put yourself down before you’ve even had a chance to make something happen for yourself.
I turned the Twitter and Facebook notifications on my phone and computer off a long time ago. Now I only look at them when I want to. But being the highly competitive person I am, I still find it overwhelming when I go online to discover all these voices shouting ‘me! me! me!’ (or worse ‘them! them! them!’ because they know it gets them some sort of social cred). Either way, it’s too much information of single kind. Just a sweeping platform for what’s wonderful and amazing and brilliant about the world and we humans. When in reality, we humans and the world live in a sorry state. And by the time we look up from our screens are start noticing the cracks and fissures, it’ll be too late.
Social media platforms, of any kind, were always about glorifying and worshipping the self in a very non real, 2D way. In light of the new Facebook scandal (it was only a matter of time) I’m wondering if it might be time to take a step back from the online world. And I’m saying this as much to myself as anyone else. Too often have I written a post about a published poem, or a workshop invitation with the phrase ‘Feeling humbled and delighted to…’ Oh fuck off. I wasn’t humbled, and I was more deliriously giddy with the thought that someone had actually taken notice of me at all, than graciously ‘delighted’.
I wonder if we should have a #realitycheck day. There are so many other ‘days’ out there. #realitycheckday means you can only post about the bog-standard reality of your every day life. ‘Feeling humbled and delighted to have made jam on toast’ or whatever it might be.
Or maybe we should just shut our phones off altogether and go write some poems.