Social Media: A Rant

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

The thing about my generation, the Millennials, and the generation that followed, Generation Z, is that scarcely any of us remember a time without internet. I have vague memories of my Mum and I getting dial up, and the noise it used to make when it was connecting. I remember that my Mum couldn't talk on the phone when I was on the computer playing games or searching photos of horses to print and stick on my wall; it was a time before cellphones or broadband, before the internet encapsulated us entirely. But I don't remember a time when the internet wasn't there at all. My Mum and Aunty do, but then my Mum often talks about when my Grandparents bought their first colour television. Arguably, the internet is something that is entirely our own. It's our thing. Don't get me wrong, the internet can be used for good. It keeps us connected, it keeps us entertained, it keeps us informed, and you gotta admit that I'd be lying if I said that Google wasn't an absolute lifesaver.

Perhaps that is where the issue lies; we've become too reliant on the internet. Social media in particular is a huge issue. You could argue that it's just fun and games. Up until very recently, I had a Facebook and a Twitter, and I still have an Instagram and a Tumblr (more on that later). But the underlying issues of social media, for example our addition to recording and posting every moment of everyday online for everyone to see, the relentless stalking that can occur when you break up with someone, or the colossal problem of online bullying and backstabbing, have become too big to ignore. In addition we are bombarded with images and statues about everyone else's "perfect lives" when in reality, they're far from perfect. We see splashes and slivers, but never the full picture. We see the good times, but not the bad times. I mean, unless you're directly involved in somebody's life and affairs that is. However some people, infact most of us, don't realise that. Social media is not reality. On top of everything, we don't even know the full scale effects of it yet because the whole concept of the internet and social media is such a recent invention.

Anyway carrying on, everything you put on the internet is public. Literally everything. Once you click post, there is no going back. The thing is babes, that it doesn't matter how private you make something, someone somewhere will be able to see it. I've googled my name before and found photos I thought I had deleted off social media years ago. Nothing is safe. The internet is a void, a black hole. Searching something in Google only scratches the surface of the web, it's colossal.

A few days ago, I logged onto Twitter to find that my best friend of three years had blocked me. Initially I thought she'd done it in an attempt to be funny, since I jokingly had done the same to her months ago in response to her incessant retweeting of all things to do with her favourite band. It was when she didn't reply to my texts that I got worried. I logged off my twitter, so I could look at hers as an anonymous user (yes that is a thing, believe it or not). So anyway, this friend had posted an especially bitchy status about me. She was angry apparently because I had been "outing" her tweets and "throwing them back in her face". In time her internet friends, many whom she's never even met before let alone have any idea who I am, had all chipped in telling her I was gross and she needed new friends, to which my supposed best friend of three years had replied "tell me about it". Someone I know who I don't get along with had also joined in. It was when I confronted my friend about it that I found out she had been talking to this person behind my back, about me. She also went on and on about how it was "just twitter", and how me finding other ways to look at her account when she had blocked me was an invasion of privacy.

Now let's get one thing straight, I didn't really care that she had blocked me. It was the tweeting about me that I didn't like, especially considering I had seen her a week beforehand and she hadn't said anything. After much arguing I discovered the real issue was that she didn't like me talking about her new tattoo with my workmates. At the time we didn't know what it was yet so we were speculating about what it could be. Eventually they starting teasing me about wanting Morrissey's face on my leg when I was fifteen (secretly still do lol). What has this got to do with blocking and bitching about me "outing" her Twitter? I've got no idea. Furthermore how sad is it that a solid three year relationship has now ended because of the passive aggressive antics of someone who didn't have the common decency to state what was bothering her to my face?

Unsurprisingly, I've had issues with Twitter before. One time I asked someone to stop tweeting about my Mum (yes no shit, she was tweeting about my Mother), and she threw a tantrum, blocked me, and spent the next hour complaining about me. On twitter. After I had explicitly asked her not too. This is the same person who preaches girl love. Ironic, isn't it? Furthermore some days I log onto Tumblr and people are encouraging their followers to bully other users. I've seen cruel Instagram comments telling people they're ugly and should kill themselves. It appears online bullying and backstabbing is only gaining speed. Social media is a bit like advertising really. The more attention we pay to it, the more powerful it grows.

And that's why, after very little contemplation, I deactivated my Facebook and Twitter. You can now add social media to my list of things I'm deleting from my life, temporarily anyway. Boys, dairy, social media. Gone. Goodbye. I might get Facebook back in time, after all I do have friends overseas and it's so easy to log on and flick them a message. I think I just need a break. Even if you think it's "just social media" you can't deny the problems that arise from our obsession with online social platforms.

I'm not encouraging everyone to go deleting every social media account they have, I'm simply encouraging you to log off for a bit. Read a book, create a zine, listen to music through a speaker instead of your super anti-social noise cancelling headphones (guilty, sorry team). Go to a cafe and talk to your friends instead of taking photos of your food and spending fifteen minutes choosing an Instagram filter. Even better, go to a cafe without wifi (yes they exist). Go to a concert and close your eyes and listen to the music and put your phone away (seriously, it defeats the entire purpose of going to see live music). Get off Tinder and go to a bar. Try eating your breakfast without tweeting about it. Detox. Get it out of your system. Hell, maybe after a few days you'll notice the way the sun hits a building, the wildflowers that grow outside your window, the cute boy who lives next door. Maybe you'll spot a new cafe that just opened, or a bookstore that you've walked past everyday for four years and never noticed. Put simply, quit the screen and start living.

Until next time babes, stay fresh xx

p.s As of the 19th April, my friend and I are all good now. Forgiveness is a virtue honey bees x

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