By Guest Contributor Writer @MartinJMorse
Maybe you’ve heard this before. Maybe you even know it deep down inside every time you double tap that digital heart outline on your little screen.
So why is it that we have become so emotionally connected, obsessed and dare I say even addicted to our social media feeds and features?
We are living in an instant age. Instant everything. From shopping to dating to even employment. We are managing our lives from the fast lane of apps and social media. But are they taking us away from our true center and authentic selves?
It can be exhausting at times. Addictive. Compulsive. Facebook alone has over 600 million users and growing. If you’re not posting or scrolling through a timeline and actively contributing you’re getting left behind right?
The only way some of us even check in with our friend’s and family’s lives is to check their social media feeds. We are becoming programmed and very quickly, to associate and equate our lives with our timelines and interactions on social media via likes and comments. Don’t get me wrong, I love the convenience of my phone and the multitude of apps that make my life a bit easier. But I do ask myself at times, ‘is what I am seeing on the social media feeds so curated and tailored that I am missing out on the reality behind the post?’ Is the picture real or ripped from the net? Is the face or body I am scrolling over so heavily modified that the person pictured doesn’t even exist in real life?
What exactly is our reality?
Are we just getting a carefully chosen frame of a movie we would normally walk out on or fall asleep in?
We are asking a bunch of questions and esoterically we could keep asking. But the million dollar question is: How do I get off this insanely over stimulating rat race measured in double taps, dissolving hearts and emojis without cutting myself off from people or possibility? What’s the deeper reason behind why we are so obsessed with building our followers and receiving likes?
Let me ask you, do you even really truly want to get off the hamster wheel these apps have created? We live in a day to day world of agreement by committee. This means we are operating within a tacit agreement between each other. If the majority say it is so, then, it is so and that’s the way “it” is. For some this agreement is just fine and the day to day is just that. Wake up, move through a morning routine, punch a clock, maintain your work responsibilities, check your social media feeds, answer emails, surf the net, head home, maintain your personal responsibilities, sleep, repeat the next day…whew! For some that’s good enough and life is safely predictable according to the way all that occurs for them. However, for some this just doesn’t settle well with something deeper inside. Shall we travel down the rabbit hole? We’ll only slide down it just a bit, I promise.
Every single one of us on the planet is dealing with some level of shit personally, professionally or both. There is not one person I come across in my travels and daily dealings that when we get to the nitty gritty of it doesn’t unload a bag of complaints or shortcomings or wishes to change something about their lives. But for most of us the prospect of major change in life is paralyzing. The thought of making major change is overruled by fear and the unknown of how to even start the change in the first place. The list of self talk and rationalizing reasons not to make change is extensive from person to person. So a daily routine works for most and the outlet for the life you dream of or the love life you want or that trip across the world is satisfied through the miraculous invention of an app that lets you live vicariously through others. So we make an agreement with ourselves subconsciously to fill that desire in swipes and taps keeping those fears and anxieties of change at bay. Scientifically it is proven that the chemicals associated with happiness and satisfaction can be produced by simply visualizing or being stimulated by a placebo. Enter your new addiction, social media.
It has it all. We catch up on the latest news. We connect to the latest fashions. We lust after the perfect bodies sweating it out in the gym. We swipe for orgasms. We fawn over perfectly photographed vacation views. We even scratch our voyeuristic side by social media stalking people all in complete anonymity. All we have to do is search, follow and presto! Ahhh, that rush of dopamine satisfies your desires instantly. Some are well acquainted with their new monsters, feeding it in the privacy of their home with multiple profiles, multiple apps and multiple social interactions. The lines between real life, what is reality and what actually is becomes very blurred. A thousand taps later and the possibility exists for your social feed actually being your reality. That’s the extreme though right?
You’re probably saying to yourself right now, ‘I’m definitely not one of those people’. Well, let’s see. Answer honestly, it’s just us here. Have you ever gone on a date with someone met through social media? Have you ever gotten “catfished”? Do you have multiple profiles on one app? Do you use social media feeds of friends as a real social barometer? For example, ‘I saw Jane Hoe…I mean Jane Doe in VIP at the new club opening, why wasn’t I there?’
For the overwhelming majority it’s the Siren’s song of intoxication. The feeds lure you into a whole other reality designed by someone curating an on-line life and lifestyle. The competition is on and you didn’t even know there was one. Now it’s your turn to post something dynamic and eye catching. Your posts have to be as cool as the other feeds you follow. Can you get a handful of likes? How about a DM from a hot profile? Did your followers grow today? Feed the monster. Seek validation.
Unbeknownst to us, we’ve become driven by certain cues and prompts in our lives. Chenoa describes these cues and prompts as “habit loops”. Sometimes they are great and add checks and balances to our lives, but sometimes (more than we would like to admit) they are not good for us in the long term and we become numb to the loop. In my business I see the work behind the brands being made, shaped and curated on a daily basis because of social media. High profile businesses or individuals have to keep up the appearance of a certain lifestyle or look. It’s the tail wagging the dog at this point.
The Kardashian clan made their place in pop culture via digital and social media. The monster has to be fed so each post has to be glamorous and a display of their fabulous life and lifestyle. It’s their brand. How interesting would it be if a famous pro athlete was not posting his bling or $200,000 cars and multi-million dollar homes?
Remember, we are operating in agreement as community so we voraciously consume these profiles and demand for more and more perpetuating the ever curated brands. And it works, right? Everyone gets satisfaction from the machine. We as a society live vicariously through these feeds shaking up the day to day of our lives with the daily gossip and tea meanwhile not present to just how curated these “everyday” lifestyle posts are.
Trust me, I have first hand account and stories for these “impromptu” posts and glimpses of celebrity life that pull back the proverbial curtain. They give us a false sense of what reality is and conversely leads you down the same path. Your posts become curated. Your real life validation slowly melds from positive tangible affirmations and compliments to how many people liked your last post. Slowly, systematically and quietly, we become drawn in to false reality that influences your self esteem, your self worth and your idea of what is important based on the number of likes or comments you’re getting. For women, that bikini post got way more likes than the Sunday church brunch. Guys, the likes pour in when you post your bling or the like. Get where I’m going here? Get present to the monster we feed.