Thursday, November 14, 2013

You Don't Exist: The Social Media Plague

Do you exist if you don't have a Facebook? A Twitter? A Snapchat address? What if you don't have a phone? Do you exist as a person?

The answer is sadly, becoming more and more a solid: NO.

You don't exist if you don't have a Facebook that connects you with friends and future employers and serves as your login for GooglePlus and Tumblr. You don't exist if you don't have a phone number that you can be quickly and easily reached at. You will be excluded from dating if you don't join Tinder, and from communicating with your friends if you can't respond to their Snapchats.

Maybe I'm being a little dramatic here, but it's the truth. I see more and more people that are constantly glued to their mobile devices, unable to look up and connect with anyone in real life. In many people's worlds, their true connections are only with people through the digital media. If you don't have a profile, an avatar, a page, a number or a name there, where are you?

I have a flip-phone. An old Verizon brand phone that only plays the most basic of games and can't receive video or any special characters. It doesn't do Instagram or email, and definitely doesn't have a 24-hr connection with Facebook. Although I want a new smartphone, I am content to do with my old version until I can comfortably afford one. And what I'm finding out is...I'm starting to not exist in the terms of my peers.

That's scary, to be considered as not existing.

So let's look at this here, each different form of communication is the same as having a voice. Granted, we have several voices now-days, but hear me out. If you cannot speak, do you exist? Logically you do not. If you don't have a Facebook page, you don't exist in the Facebook world. If you don't have a smartphone with Snapchat, you don't exist in Snapchatland.

Inability to communicate + lack of connection to specific social media = nonexistance

Think about that for a moment. You. Don't. Exist. "But wait..." you say, thinking you have found the loophole. "I DO have a Snapchat and Instagram and Twitterfeed and YouTube page. I have the connections therefore I MUST exist." Let me ask again, do you have a Pinterest? A Bebo? A deviantART page? What about Flickr or LinkedIn? Tagged? Xt3? Don't even get me started on all the versions of Facebook that there are., Faceparty (UK exclusive) and FriendFace. (Ok, FriendFace is fictional, but are you starting to catch my drift?) There are several of these sites and many more that I haven't even named where you don't have a page and thus, you don't exist. In fact, you don't exist on several different levels.

You. Don't. Exist.

"I am a real person! I DO exist! I'll prove it!" So you say, but in a world where the only real communication happens via some form of technology, if you don't have that technology you don't exist.

Let me illustrate a few things here. I was out with some friends the other night. I jumped in the car, excited to begin the adventure and started to say hi to people. "Hi! What's up? I've got a story to...." I petered off. Nobody was listening. The entire car, crammed full of people, were collectively glued to their phones. Even the driver (who was still in park mode) was quickly answering a few texts and searching for a new song playlist.

I was completely at a loss. Do I try to interrupt my friends to talk to them? Do I sit and wait for them to finish? Do I pull out my phone and pretend I have important phone stuff to do too? I was in a car full of people, and not one of them was acknowledging my real-life presence. I thought, is this really what our world is becoming? And I felt lonely, for even though I was there with them, I did not exist. I decided for an in-between strategy. After waiting an appropriate amount of time and trying to start a conversation, I pulled out my phone. After fiddling with the settings on my obviously high-tech flip phone, I decided to text the person sitting next to me.
*Texting! I just wanted to hear the sound again :)* Message sent
Semi-success, awkward conversation was achieved for the remainder of the ride. Which made me happy, awkward conversation is better than no conversation! In fact, I specialize in awkward conversation that makes people wonder if I have any social skillz whatsoever. I don't, thanks for asking, but I pretend to.

There have been studies done that say our generation is the most prone to loneliness and depression. I believe it. There is a chemical reason we enjoy socializing with real people, and without getting into details the fact remains that humans are social animals. While social media makes us feel closer and feel like we have more people to interact with, in reality we are just fooling ourselves. An evening at home, lying on your bed and texting people is infinitely less satisfying than an evening spent talking and laughing with real people. You get to see facial expressions, touch them, smell them (even if you don't want to) and above all, form a real connection.

So I don't exist in Snapchat, Tumblr, or Friendface. I am semi-okay with that. I would like to exist in Snapchat and have a GPS as a phone. You probably don't exist in Instagram or Pinterest. That's okay. I would like to be okay with existing in less social media than I do. I would like to say that I don't depend on Facebook to connect me to people, but I do. It's a complicated situation, I want to be more connected than I really am, but at the same time dislike that I have this need. I'm not perfect, and I bet we all fight with this more than we want to say. I would like to be a hardcore advocate of NO CELL PHONES in buildings and stuff, but I'm not. I see their benefits, and I like knowing when I'm going to get a text.

Point of this blog, 
You Don't Exist. 
And you know what? 
That's okay. 
It really is. 

I know you don't believe me, but try to. Social media serves a good purpose, but too much of a good thing can kill you. So your friends are all on Twitter and make fun of you for being a Reddit user instead. That's okay, maybe you could take your evening Reddit time and go to a coffee shop instead. Even if you don't get anything, go hang out. Meet some new people. Go to a place where cellphones are off-limits and see how well you get along with others when they can't reach you for an hour.

It's no mistake that my two best friends in the entire world have the same love-hate relationship with technology that I do and are slightly behind in social media as well. We have things in common because we can talk face-to-face for hours and never get tired of it. I love finding people like that, people that aren't afraid to be unconnected from the interwebs for a few hours. These are always the most real, most interesting people. They haven't lost their ability to communicate beyond 160 characters.

A few last thoughts, have you ever seen someone who is practically addicted to their phone? They can't go more than 2-3 minutes without pulling it out and checking something. They may even go an hour or two, but it's rare. Now, have you seen that same person when their phone battery dies and they can't plug it in? They look lost. Their eyes get a blankness, and they can't seem to focus on any conversation. It's sad, but it's true. Please don't be that person. Try not existing for awhile in social media, and maybe you'll start existing in real life instead.

Feed by M.T. Anderson 

Also, this video here. Just watch it, 2 minutes from your life.

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