It’s 8:57 am and I’m rushing down Market Street, obscenely late for my 9 am seminar. My fingers are numb, my torso is overheating under excessive layers of t-shirts and jackets and I am nursing a wicked hangover. My morning is going bleakly enough as it is and descends into the realm of absurd intolerability when one young gentleman runs into me, head on, eyes mindlessly glued to his phone.
Rewind to the night before (perhaps the morning before would be more accurate, seeing as I didn’t reach my bed until four hours prior), and I’m sitting on a wonderfully shabby couch, catching up with a friend I haven’t seen in weeks. We chat for fifteen minutes but barely get any further than bemoaning our lack of sleep and assignment-heavy schedules because we are interrupted at two-minute intervals with requests to take photos of passers-by. As the (moderately) sober and seated attendees, we are singled out as the designated chroniclers of our friends’ social lives.
Now, before I get too caught up in this tirade against social media and the technologically dependant era we live in today, let me issue a disclaimer: yes, I have Facebook, yes, I am on Snapchat, and yes, I am prone to the odd drunken selfie. I am not launching an attack on the vanity of Millennials, nor I am perpetuating the recent culture of blaming the economic crisis we find ourselves in on the “frivolous” and “entitled” nature of our generation. I am, rather, looking to discuss the problematic way in which social media affects how we modern day pseudo-adults experience the world around us during these exciting and formative years.
It is a universal fact that our generation experiences life in an unprecedented manner; through a continuous Insta-filter lens. As we scroll through our newsfeeds, we are bombarded with rose-tinted images of our peers living life and experiencing the whirlwind that is our early twenties. We furiously defend technology and social media against begrudging “Baby Boomers” as mediums of communication and inclusivity, but is this truly the case? If we’re completely honest, is the invention of social media an iconic asset, or has it actually quashed our ability to experience life in the first instance?
Nowadays, if you didn’t Snapchat it, it didn’t happen. If you’re not tagged in a picture from the night before, were you even there? If you don’t capture the best photo, from the best angle, with the best caption, are you even valid? It’s a harrowing prospect that has come to my attention only in recent months. As a result of my beloved phone of four years (RIP, dear friend) finally sputtering its last dying alerts, I have been plunged into the abyss of the Dark Ages. Without a high brand device at my disposal, I became acutely aware of my dependence on it. The adjustment from instant connectivity and accessibility has been jarring, but uncomfortably illuminating. Without my phone in hand, I am forced to find distraction in those around me and I can’t help but notice most of us aren’t really experiencing the world around us as it unfolds.
Before I end this pretentious rant article, I want to make something clear. I still support social media and will defend technology against any begrudging Baby Boomer in my path. I still love taking photos of my favourite people living the best years of their lives. However, my expulsion into the darkness that is technological redundancy has made me appreciate nights out and new experiences unhindered by Snapchat envy and the pressure of documenting every single moment as it unfolds.
As a result, I implore all of my fellow tech-savvy chroniclers out there to heed my feeble plea to experience these moments as active participants. We don’t get to tap replay on our youth. The best lens to capture these memories of our golden years is that of the OG cameras located in our very own over-tired, caffeine-fuelled minds. Come, join me in the darkness every once in a while (the lighting is more flattering over here, anyway).