At first, there was no challenge to the religion. It promised community, a sense of belonging through a simple ritual, performed several times a day, pre-dawn to dark: Command, T, F, Enter. Command, T, F, Enter.
Sound familiar? Maybe not, but look down at your computer keyboard. To most every one of my peers, including myself, this is muscle memory. This is the first thing you do when you come home. This is your mind wandering off while trying to write a paper. This is meeting up with your friends. This is reading the news. This is watching “television.” This is getting to know your sixth grade crush. This is asking your sixth grade crush out late at night. This is having your sixth grade crush break up with you under the fictitious pretext of “It’s not you, it’s me.” This is the the keyboard shortcut for opening Facebook on your browser.
My brain still a malleable blob of clay, I first signed up for a Facebook account at the tender age of ten. Enticed by my peers’ promises of group messages, games, and “funny pics,” I created an account as soon as possible in the library of my primary school. I can still remember it raining that day. If I were a middle school english teacher I might say this was foreshadowing.
After successfully lying about my age, declaring myself “Single,” and uploading a photo of a shark as my profile picture, I was now a proud member of the Facebook community. I had my own digital projection of myself, and I could present myself in any way I saw fit. Upload a picture of me with a skateboard, suddenly I was rebellious (and slightly athletic); upload a photo of me playing guitar, I was now musically inclined. Finally, I could be who I wanted to be.
Fast forward seven years and the fervor of social media has permanently ingrained itself as a daily routine for me and everyone I know a constant, uninterrupted forum of communication available to all, any time of day, or night. From the second I woke up to the moments before drifting off to sleep, my contemporaries and I were continuously refreshing our respective social media feeds. We got hooked. I was able to keep tabs on all my old friends whenever my family moved, while simultaneously making it “easier” to make new ones, social media quickly became an integral part of my life. Yet, I felt more and more alone. Everyone around me that I talked to felt more and more alone. Everyone’s actions hinged upon the instant gratification from Likes and Shares, Favorites and Reblogs. A culture was being formed where intelligence, beauty, and originality were tossed aside in favor of acclaim. Someone’s followers comprised their worth, their influence. We were slaves to the glass rectangle.
(art credit: Emile Ravenet)