I got caught in an Instagram loop this morning. A pre-teen Instagram loop.
I don't know how I got there. But I assure you such a circle of girls and boys not yet fit for driving, yet virtually spanning the globe, I did not know existed. One where girls with Pink sweatshirts and top knots list follower numbers ending in K. One where emoticons I don't have the first clue as to their formation are splashed across comment sections like the fierce war paint of a generation.
I was reading Man Repeller yesterday, and it's no coincidence that this particular conversation caught my attention instantly. Leandra was commenting on an article recently featured in Gawker. The one where we ruminate on the place technology has in our lives and the generations rearing below us, and the apparently rampant narcissism it has fostered. But is it, though? What is that desire within all of us to spread our lips for the camera, to document our every movement to be viewed and commented on and shared for the world to see? Is it the narcissism we preach it to be, or is it something greater or more profoundly telling of our generation?
It's for the above concerns that it took me so long to start writing this blog. Or to understand the concept of any blog, for that matter. I could not fathom a world where anyone but my brain-hamster or title-bound friends would want to hear anything I had to say past the standard facebook "OMG I miss you let's hang out soon!!" I felt pretentious even considering sharing what I have to say with the channels of technology running through our everyday lives. But now I'm beginning to suspect it's pretentious to shy away from it based on that very presumption. What kind of mind-fuck is THAT?
So what are we doing, then? What are we doing when we bare our lives for the masses and invite them into our own private sector of the universe? Or rather, are we really baring ourselves, or are we just presenting the best of what we have to offer in hopes that it will be rewarded with praise, fame and fortune? Are we really as narcissistic as they say, or are we simply screaming for someone to acknowledge that yes indeed, we are alive, and simply by that fact we are wonderful? Is that acknowledgement what we're searching for to validate our lives, and in turn, finally be happy?
The battle wages in my own head eternally -- "to be, or not to be, technology?" Because while the connectedness we've gained as a human race through the Interwebs is irrefutable, I wonder sometimes if we've not bastardized it in some way. When Al Gore sat down to invent the Internets, did he envision a future in which our shared experiences would enrich our lives; or did he see me, sitting at the computer for hours on end, agonizing over all that I am and am not in the vast comparison that is every other person on this planet, splashed across pages?
Obviously, this is a great disparity for me. My relationship with people is such that I love them all and fully (except when I want to punch them in the face), but with all the people out there to love via my computer screen I wonder how this feet is possible. I wonder if we've gotten too consumed by ourselves being loved by the masses instead of loving the masses. I wonder if we've tripped a switch that's brought us to a Back to the Future-esque alternative reality where we've missed the point. Maybe it's a product of a generation that never felt heard by its parents striving for technology-driven success (let's not even get started on the Industrial Revolution, when all of this "go go go" mentality was created) that we feel the need to put ourselves out on the grid to feel validated. Maybe we're all just dying for that outlet for our creativity that is squandered by the same mentality. Maybe we're just looking for the right way to use all this information at our fingertips.
As Leandra points out, it's the drive for happiness that creates the confusion. Are we really happy and want to share it, or are we searching for that happiness in a "you look sew hawt" brand of communication? I'd like to believe we have found our happiness within ourselves and desire to extend it outwards, expanding its levity. But I'm not always so sure. My hope is for all of us to find that which drives us, and then bring it to others. I know it's out there. I know it's what brings a great number of us together on this sphere connected by telephone wires and iCloud addresses. I only hope that is the direction we choose to move along, instead of twisting it around as an end chasing a means.
I guess I'm doomed to eternally agonize over my role and feelings henceforth of this new brand of living we're in. I was born a few years too early to be indoctrinated in it like my younger family members and a few years too late to disregard it entirely. So I'm stuck forever in the middle, wondering where this media fits into our lives and why. I'd like to believe in its connective power. I'll go with that for a while. But as soon as I start posting pictures like this, please do yourselves a favor and take me off your contact list.