Who doesn’t have a complicated relationship with social media? It has become common practice to complain about the crap listed on our Facebook wall or the display of stereotypes on our Instagram feed. Yet we are still here, still scrolling down, still taking it all in – day after day. Have I ever felt satisfied at the end of such exercise? Not at all. Quite the contrary. If there is no horrible thing happening in the world to make me feel depressed and hopeless, then there is an abundance of uselessness to bore my senses. It’s rainy, it’s sunny. Great coffee, great food. Best friends, best restaurant, best city, best country, best holiday, best relationship in the world. What would we share if it weren’t for all these?
I am still a part of the game, yet I don’t know for how long I will be able to put up with this. I upload a photo on my Instagram and I have no idea why I am doing it. I don’t take any pleasure out of this, except for maybe the act of image editing. And what about the likes? Honestly, I don’t care too much about them either. It costs me one second of my time to click on the heart or the thumb-up button when I like something, to completely forget about that content a few minutes later. What I like now is all gone, erased from my memory, the moment I put my phone down or close my laptop. So why would I take any pleasure or self-esteem from the likes I receive? I know they can’t mean that much to those who gave them. By the time I see their likes, they have already forgotten about my post. And that is a natural thing, especially nowadays with so much information trying to grab our attention.
Authentic, unique, high-quality content is a rare thing. This is all very subjective of course. I for one am not interested in “How to…”, “You won’t believe what…” and “1o best places in…” type of articles, to name but a few. Even travelogues don’t seem to move me any longer, when they’re all about hotels, restaurants, and shops. In fact, the more travel content I see on my social media, the less I feel like traveling. And let’s not forget about YouTube and its “stars”. I must have been living under a stone until a couple of months ago when I read an article about the best youtubers in the Netherlands. Curious to see what that was about, I looked for their YouTube profiles and played some of the videos. A guy filming himself eating cereals with milk, his dog jumping and his brother watching TV. It goes on with other trivia for almost 10 minutes. That guy has 6 million followers. 6 million people are willing and delighted to see some other person eating breakfast.
Content is not the only problem. I could just unfollow, never follow, spare myself of it all. But the realisation that these things exists and that there is such huge demand for them, well, that is something I find extremely demoralising. If I ever write a book, who is going to read it? Are people interested in something that is not so flamboyant as eating cereals in front of the camera? I have some strong doubts about it.
I wanted to delete or at least deactivate my Facebook profile. But then I thought I won’t be able to see all those events taking place in the city, like a food market or a festival, a sample sale or a new pop-up store. I would be missing out on things. Is that so? What I would be missing out, in fact, are occasions to spend currency. Things would be sold out to me and I won’t be there to buy them. Well, wouldn’t that be a catastrophe? Better stay on Facebook and click attend. And what about friends and relatives? Am I not afraid I would lose contact with them if I deactivate my account? I actually think our relationship would improve if I did that. Our conversations would be more meaningful if we called each other. Families would not be torn apart and friendships will not succumb in the absence of this network. I am confident I would still talk to and meet my dear ones regardless.
My boyfriend likes to call me a loser whenever I use social media. “So, what are your Japanese friends saying?” he asked me one morning as I was checking my Instagram. “Did they like the photo?” By Japanese he meant fictive because I don’t have friends in that particular country. He was making fun of me because he has a hard time understanding what makes me share my creations – be it photography or writing – with the world. When I suggested, as a joke, that maybe I should also start making YouTube videos, he said that would be the end of our relationship. An apocalyptic image of our days and holidays, when it would all have to be styled and filmed, must have really freaked him out.
And isn’t that so? When do we have the time and the state of mind to enjoy things if we are so preoccupied with making them Facebook-, Instagram-, and YouTube-able? My content might bring me zero profit, but it is a representation of who I am. And this is far more valuable to me.