MC's Whispers

Whispering Silences

Archive for the tag “social media”

The screen that unites us

https://img.clipartfest.com/cff882c695c65e98e3882a6a62ee1d15_-online-chat-clip-art-1-online-chat-clipart_400-400.jpegYou might in essence be talking to a screen, but it’s beyond that: you’re engaging with the people who for some reason or other can’t be physically with you at that moment. The range and evolution of new technology nowadays allows you to contact at any place and any time people who may be situated miles away.

It enables you to share your news, to ask for help, to learn how to do things together – such as cook a meal, bake a cake, or even sew, no matter the distance that physically separates you.

There are some things you just know. And there are some people who can see those things without you really having to say anything. Parents are people like that. People who know when you need help even when you’re not asking for it. People who understand you are not well, no matter how much you try and hide it. People who will reassure you and make you feel better, even when you insist that everything is fine.

And it is at moments like those when you acknowledge the importance and dependence we have on technology and social media. Because if used right, it diminishes the miles and brings you home.

RSVP

http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/wwfeatures/wm/live/624_351/images/live/p0/2k/4q/p02k4qwr.jpgWhen sent a form of communication – be it an email, an SMS, an instant message, a written letter, a pigeon, a Morse code or smoke signals – it is always good manners to respond. Regardless of whether there was a direct question involved.

The same implies for when someone is addressing you with an issue of some sort. Maybe they want your opinion on something, maybe they are asking for your input, or maybe they simply want to share their experience with you. But in all cases, they expect that you will respond in some sort of way.

Otherwise, if you don’t even have the courtesy to nod in acknowledgement that you are registering what they’re saying, it is easy to misunderstand or rather, conclude (either rightly or wrongly), that the other person is simply not interested.

If you care enough, you find the means, the time, and the way to respond.

The French have even globalised a polite abbreviation for it – Répondez S’il Vous Plait (RSVP). OK, you might not really want to respond to something, but it is merely polite to simply acknowledge receipt of the communication and fire up a minimum five-word response. It takes up much more of your time trying to edit a photo to upload on social media, or scrolling through social networking sites.

It is a shame that in the so-called digital era all this technology has in fact made us so anti-social.

Don’t sing too often

http://f.tqn.com/y/buddhism/1/W/B/B/-/-/453331569.jpg

In these contemporary times, where everything is public and in plain sight, there is the prevailing sentiment that everyone wants what’s best for you, as long as it’s not better than what they have. Jealousy is a nasty thing. Envy is even worse.

According to the ancient Greek poet Callimachus, “jealousy is the daughter of self-love and inseparable sister of envy and malice.”

Jealous people are often insecure, feeling inferior towards others, or desiring something that the other has. But jealousy is a negative emotion, transmitting a gloomy aura.

Paulo Coelho says “never hate jealous people. They are jealous because they think you are better than them”. The simple knowledge of this fact should suffice.

But there is something more.

Sometimes we are the ones who provoke this so-called “evil eye”, because we so want to share our good fortune, our happiness and optimism with others. In the era of social networking and continuous (digital) exposure, however, this isn’t exactly the best option.

There is a relevant story on precisely this: once upon a time, there was this little sparrow, who while flying south for the winter froze solid and fell to the ground. And then to make matters worse the cow crapped on him, but the manure was all warm and it defrosted him. So there he is, he’s warm and he’s happy to be alive and he starts to sing. A hungry cat comes along and he clears off the manure and he looks at the little bird and then he eats him. And the moral of the story is this: everyone who craps on you is not necessarily your enemy, and everyone who gets you out of crap is not necessarily your friend, and if you’re warm and happy no matter where you are you should just keep your big mouth shut.

There are some people who draw misery out of the happiness of others. There are those who instead of turning jealousy into a productive impulse to become better themselves, convert it into envy and attempt to darken the lives of others. So perhaps let us rather see how we can make our own souls brighter, stirring from within us the change and improvement we seek, and let’s try to envy others less, as they may be managing to do exactly what we hesitate to act upon.

Living with/in social media

asocial-networkingIn an age where everything is public, everything also inevitably affects us no matter how much we deny it. We are so hooked on our digital existence that we really can’t see to be without it. It is as if we don’t exist unless we document our actions and share it online for the world to see. No matter how trivial or silly these may be.

The problem with social media nowadays is that nothing is truly private anymore. The confines of personal space and data have become blurred. Once information is “out there” it can literally never be retrieved and re-hidden, regardless of how much it is deleted.

We live in a period when our pass-time is spying on one another online. We may never speak in real life, but have the closest virtual connections and know all about one another’s life – or at least the image we each want to portray – solely from what we post online. Fake or real, our lives have been transferred onto a screen, be it big or small. And it is in that, however, that we’ve lost our human emotion in an attempt to gain more communication. The digital evolution has undoubtedly advanced communication through the certainty granted by the distance provided by the screen, and the time allowed to work on the expression of your views; because otherwise we would seemingly drown in all those things that would have been left unsaid. Yet, filling up with words and flagrant demonstrations of actions, we have become void of sentiment. We have lost the ability to talk, to gaze into the other person’s eyes and speak without saying a word. To understand through the tone of their voice, the message of their heartbeat. To comprehend their state of mind, simply by observing their body language. There are so many things that a screen can still not convey.  And it is through this smartphone and digital media addiction, that we have brought upon us the death of conversation, panicking like drug addicts experiencing withdrawal symptoms when we are found without a device in hand. It is a necessary evil of the modern age, but like everything in life, we need to be able to control and take hold of it. Not allow it to be the other way around.

 

Also part of Daily Prompt: Panic

Chasing Pokémon

http://c.fastcompany.net/multisite_files/fastcompany/imagecache/inline-large/inline/2016/07/3061764-inline-i-2-pokemon-go-is-the-most-addicting-app-in-years-and-heres-why-it-matters.jpg“Come on, we need to catch ‘em now!”  Mitch grabbed his phone and headed towards the door. His anxiety was evident as his hand transferred his tremor onto the open door. His wife did not share the agony.

She still hadn’t caught the two Pokémon hiding in the house.

But Mitch saw there were many more outside roaming the neighbourhood. It was obvious from the number of cars parked in the street and the hoard of dazed young people walking around like zombies searching for imaginary creatures that appeared randomly on their phones.

With every vibrate, you would hear a scream and then witness a leap forward.

They were all obviously seeing something that any person out of the Pokémon Go loop would not understand.

People had been caught Pokémon & driving, which was far worse than drunk driving because at least in the latter case the driver’s eyes were on the road, even if his/her mind wasn’t.

People had been falling over, bumping into trees, with each other, or even being hit by cars exactly because they were too busy being dragged around the routes depicted on their phone, rather than be aware of their actual surroundings.

But there were also those who found friends, even romance, through the Pokémon gatherings. Those who discovered excitement in this shared habit, no matter how addictive it got.

Mitch was still impatient. His wife had now slid under the bed and was desperately trying to throw a ball at a Pikachu sneering at her from the corner.

“Will you please hurry up?” Mitch called out.

Martha stepped in through the open door. She was about to apologise for being late because of the traffic that had gathered in the area. But when she saw what was going on with the owners of the house she was employed to maintain in order, her jaw dropped. The disorder was reminiscent of the impact of an earthquake. Even the couch – which she so dexterously vacuumed around – had been displaced.

“Will you finally go to work and stop chasing imaginary creatures, please?” she blurted out. That was just the moment the wife appeared triumphantly, waving her phone with a picture of a captured yellow creature on screen.

Martha sighed.

That was when Mitch’s father showed up at the doorstep and said “where can I plug in my phone, there is one little bugger that’s about to get away?”

 

Also part of Daily Prompt: Carefree

Forced smiles, fake laughs

http://www.veneto-explorer.com/images/350xNxeyeswildresized.jpg.pagespeed.ic.KnvlBU8W0z.jpgDo you remember what the last thing you read today was? Or what you were most recently discussing? Do you even recall what the last song you were listening to was?

We are constantly bombarded with so much information, we don’t have time to process it all. We pass our days skimming through texts and articles and by the end, we’ve already forgotten what we were reading about.

The same goes for the discussions we have. We often nod, as if we are paying attention to what our interlocutor is going on about, or as if we even remember what we were even talking about to begin with. Our topics of conversation become superficial and insubstantial. They are interesting enough to keep our attention for a few seconds, and then that distraction kicks in again.

We lose interest too soon. Isn’t that a sign of a society in disintegration? Of a life that becomes so superfluous that it keeps requiring things to keep its adrenaline high?

Do you even remember the last time you really enjoyed something? The last time you literally laughed with your heart? When you got lost in the moment you were living, forgetting about everything else?

We live at a time when we are surrounded by forced smiles and fake laughs. We have become so accustomed of hitting the “like” button online, that this has become a measure of our popularity, as if this is the only thing that matters for our existence.

We live our lives behind a mask, or maybe behind an abundance of them. To the extent that we sometimes don’t remember what it was like to be without one. What it is like to be genuine, carefree, and real.

It’s easy to put on a mask. Taking it off is the hard part.

How to disappear

Boat+and+Aegean SeaWhen she walked past, heads turned and whispers began to be heard louder than buzzing bees. Rebecca was the kind of woman who could not pass by unnoticed. It wasn’t just her beauty and decisive step that caused people to stop and stare. It was the fact that she was famous. And celebrities had that effect, no matter how much they sometimes wished they didn’t.

Rebecca had risen to fame quite suddenly. A quite afternoon reading session at a small town bistrot led to her being noticed by a hotshot producer who was out searching for his new (unknown) muse. She was offered a hefty remuneration and was promised “an experience of a lifetime”. Rebecca was the type of person who grabbed life by the horns and enjoyed every moment of it. So she decided to try it out. What did she have to lose anyway? Little could she expect then, that what she was giving up was life as she knew it.

The film was a huge success and Rebecca became a star overnight. She could no longer go anywhere alone as she could not fight back the stream of paparazzi following her every step. She was given a strict set of guidelines of what she could and could not do, what she should say, even what to wear and where to go. Soon, Rebecca grew tired of this new lifestyle. She wanted her independent existence back and was determined to get her way this time.

During her few days of forcefully obtained summer vacations, Rebecca managed to secure an hour for scuba diving off the coast of the little island where she was staying. She had everything prepared days before. Her oxygen was enough to last a couple of hours. She had stuffed some money inside her diving suit and had already planned the route she would follow so as to “drift away”. And thankfully it all went smoothly. Rebecca went scuba diving on a windy day when the underlying currents were too strong for an inexperienced diver to deal with. She was carried away and her body was never found. Her mysterious disappearance dominated the press for a couple of weeks, but, like so many other cases, was soon forgotten.

That was exactly what Rebecca wanted. To escape from the media spotlight.

She changed her name and thus identity and continued to live a “normal” life somewhere else. Somewhere where people recognized her need for privacy and respected it.

Because sometimes all it takes to truly disappear is the will to actually do so.

Do undocumented lives make an existence real?

FakeSocialMedia_grande“If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” Who would know. But that doesn’t rule out the fact that the tree fell. Similarly, if we live a life without posting every single moment of it on social media, are we really living? If there is no (public) proof, how can you demonstrate you are doing the things you do?

There are so many artificial “lives” floating online these days that we are called to distinguish between what is true and what is not. People nowadays feel the urge to gloat, to advertise, and to boast every single – usually happy – moment they experience. But how can you really engage in that moment when you are so busy taking photos, filtering and editing it, coming up with the appropriate hashtags, and picking your brain for the best comment to accompany it with, and then striving to find a proper internet connection in order to upload it to all your followers who in your mind are waiting at the edge of their seats to find out what you’re doing? Does this seem like a life you are enjoying to the fullest?

What about all those people who lived before social media (yes, life did exist before the advent of the Internet)? What about all those Roman emperors and Greek philosophers? We don’t even have a picture of them, yet we know they lived and they accomplished greatness. Are our lives evolving towards pettiness? Towards being so superficial that it matters more to publicize that we are doing something than to actually do it? And what does this say of people themselves?

We are supposed to evolve so that we make our ancestors proud. Instead, the way we are progressing, we will only make our descendants ashamed (provided that they don’t turn out to be even worse).

Seeing is believing…or maybe not?

Don't believe everything you see - Abe LincolnHarold led an ideal life. He was the Gladstone Gander of the real world. He graduated college top of his class with businesses lining up with offers for employment. He found the job he wanted as soon as he had his diploma in hand, lived in a penthouse in the city centre, and had a vibrant social life. In short, life was good for Harold.

Or was it?

This is what Harold boasted on social media. That everything was going according to plan. That he loved his job and colleagues, that he was remunerated more than adequately, that he won every scratch card he got his hands on.

But this was far from the truth.

Because as Takehito Koyasu says, “You shouldn’t believe everything. What you see isn’t always right….The truth is in a place you can’t see.

In reality, Harold was unhappy. He barely graduated college because he had a miserable student life, with roommates he did not get along with, subjects he did not find interesting, and motivation that was lacking. Once he graduated, he worked as a waiter for five years, before landing a job at a company that paid a little over minimum wage and allowed him to attempt to practice what he studied. His social life was almost non-existent because of the very few friends he had and due to his introvert nature. He lived in an apartment on the ground floor that cost more than it was worth. And what is more, Harold never won the lottery or any scratch card he invested his money in.

Social media is an easy way of creating the life you wish you had. Because no-one can prove what you assert; and given the right angle or photo-shop, anything can appear skewed from the truth. It is just another demonstration of how gullible we all truly are. People will believe almost anything, even without proof. Why? Maybe because deep down we still want to believe in the good nature present in all, that we won’t lie to each other, because there is really no point in doing so. In the end, we are only lying to ourselves.

Selfish Shellfish Selfies

ShellfieGo into a café. Look around. How many people do you see who are really conversing? Who are actually talking and listening to each other? Look at their hand gestures, their body movement, their eye contact. Any? Now, count how many people you see instead being distracted by a digital device. Too many to count, huh?

It’s amazing how the first thing we have come to notice when entering a café, a bar, a restaurant, is whether they have free Wi-Fi or not. As if that is the criterion of whether their food will be healthy or tasty, or even edible. Because of course, we then have to check-in, post on every social media account we have, that we are at that specific place. And then, we have that irresistible need – that feels like an itch that must be scratched – to take selfies of everything, as if that is what will prove our existence.

We have become such narcissists and so self-centred that when someone asks us what we do, we hesitate for a while, and our thoughts run to the last thing we posted or read online in order to find an interesting conversation starter. How many hours of the day do we spend sunk in a screen, reading. As though we are shellfish retreating in their hard exterior, waiting for the moment a pearl will emerge. Reading about the news, about other people’s status updates, about pretty much everything. Because we need to be informed about everything. And then we also need to have an opinion about everything too. And we obviously need to post it to demonstrate that we are opinionated and follow the current trends.

But just consider for a moment, what happens during a power cut? We sit in silence not knowing what to do. And if we still have charged phones, we might take a selfie and save it for later, to post as soon as power is back – #blackout #nowwhat #awkward.

Is this what we want to be remembered as? The generation hashtag? We are so busy trying to prove that we are active digitally that we don’t really do much in reality. What is the point of going for a hike or for a cross-country train ride, when you keep posting updates of your location? How are you exactly enjoying being in nature away from the digital insanity? Sure, take pictures, but save them for later. Then you can comprehensively recap your experience and tell others how worthwhile it was to escape for a while. Prompt yourself and others to step away from the screen.

Because, honestly, is this all we have to show for ourselves? That we are selfish shellfish taking selfies?

 

Also part of Daily Prompt: Don’t You Forget About Me

Also part of Daily Post: 21st Century Citizen

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