I spend a lot of my time thinking about our relationship with social media, of how we allow it to infiltrate every aspect of our lives, and find ourselves growing more and more detached from that initial connection which we feel when we meet someone in the flesh.
When I began work on Tagged, it started as a response to social media. A way for me to put my opinions, thoughts and feelings down on the page, and to see what theatrically I could make of it. In doing this, I started to understand something, started to feel something about my relationship with social media which I hadn’t really considered before.
I find it hard to connect with new people. The thought of talking to people in a bar, or in a club that I don’t know makes me feel quite intimidated. In a way, I’m lucky in that my training as an actor has allowed me to hide this fact, to come across as being all positive and open to new people. The reality is though, I’m as insecure about that initial meeting as anyone else is.
I think that, to a large degree, my relationship with social media has stopped me from overcoming this, as I have this connection to people online which I feel I am in some way, in control of.
This afternoon I watched a video. I don’t know if anyone else has seen it, but it is by a street artist called Above, and in it, he paints street art about our relationship with social media.
I think that this, in a way, highlights the same views I have on social media. We allow it to infiltrate our lives at our most private, we post about arguments, about births, deaths, anniversaries, when our children first walk, talk, start school, get married, have children. All these moments are ones that we should live, experience and remember for being there, but we jump straight onto a social network to inform everyone else that these things have happened. It distances us from that life changing thing that has just happened.
We base our connections on how much we can read about people that we barely know, we allow people that never spoke to us in school to be our “friend” when they never had the time of day for us. We carefully consider how we say things so as not to offend, or so as to come across in our best possible way. We try to be people that we aren’t, because we want the people that don’t know us to like us.
I guess what i’m asking, or wondering is why we do these things? Why do we engage in destructive, isolating behaviour because it will look good on a news feed? Why do we check in at bars, at clubs, at home, out with friends, to make us seem like we have more of a connection when we could easily just be living that connection? Why do we rush to upload our pictures, and tag them the morning after the night before, when we could be lying in bed, feeling hungover and enjoying the memory of the great night that came before. Why do we change our relationship statuses from single to in a relationship to its complicated to in a relationship to single to married to divorced, just because we’ve argued with our partner? Why do we try to make a theatrical statement about our lives online, when by courting the drama, we are only encouraging ourselves to create more of it.
Why do we allow social networks to infiltrate our lives so strongly that we end up feeling isolated, unhappy and disconnected, all because people haven’t liked or commented on our statuses.
Why do we base our value and how we feel as a human being on our followers or our friends list, instead of basing it on our achievements and experiences.
If there’s one thing I learned from working on Tagged, it was that we need to appreciate the moments when they happen, and not be so keen to post them online. So if anyone reads this, do one thing. Just one thing, that’s all I ask.
Text or call your best friend or friends. Arrange one night where you go out for dinner, or drinks, or even just meet up in your or their flat and have a good catch up.
Don’t post anything about it on Facebook. Don’t check your phones every 5 minutes, don’t check in, don’t tweet about it, don’t take pictures of it to upload for later. Just live it, experience it, and remember it.
It’ll make you ask yourself how much time you spent doing all those social media things, when you could have just been spending them living life and making real connections.