—story by Amelia Orozco (@amelia_orozco)
Give me a high five for eating out today. Salute me for walking my dog. Please tell me what a good person I am for cooking dinner and showing you what I made, even though I don’t plan on sharing my meal with you. But I will go as far as promising you I will, and I will do it in front of thousands of others who are standing by, fingers on the trigger, ready to approve of our banter. This is life online. It’s not exactly real, but it’s real on its own level.
Imagine a cloud surrounded by little birdies, thumbs and quirky emoticons, all in a big swirly tornado. It hovers over you ready to reassure you at a moment’s notice. It’s psychedelic, far out and groovy, man. Think of it as a narrator to your life.
On social media, even the mundane is reported to the last detail, sometimes inflated to produce another effect, it’s something like envy. But it's the good kind of envy. That’s what we tell ourselves, anyway, to justify it. It will inspire others to exercise, eat healthy, to help others, to rant about injustices and to get out and vote.
The equivalent of all those pats on the back and applauses are what we in the social spectrum call “likes,” “comments” and sometimes, “shares” and we can’t seem to go a day without them nor get enough of them—the more the better, in fact. So far this year, it is reported that 78% of Americans have some kind of social network profile where they share tidbits of their life with the world at large, regardless of who is out there.
Some exchanges may be more worthy of sharing so as to reach a larger audience regarding a cause that will benefit many. Missing persons are often located using social media. And finally, opportunities like jobs are often found in that realm, too. But are we living other parts of our lives through a lens, just a little too much? Whether it’s through someone’s cheap Nokia, uber-expensive Samsung or in some faraway Internet café, it’s your life, our lives, projected for others to observe. Is our life a curated exhibit? Does a sex offender get to see you in your bikini while you sun in Miami? Is a burglar waiting for you to say you’re out somewhere instead of home? Who all is watching? Really, who’s out there, and can I call you if I have a flat tire? After all, you are my “friends,” right?
Why not just go to a nude beach to see what being exposed really means? It’s real, you can see who is watching you right there in front of you, and you can talk to others while pretending not to look at their privates. You can hold a cold one in your hand, and really feel the chill, and there would be no need to tell anyone about it because the ones that matter at that very moment are right there with you, experiencing it with you.
We all do it at one time or another. But what about those subscribers who feel it necessary to take a picture of their morning healthy shake and post it to show everyone they are on the right track. And then there are those posts that look unabashedly staged with paintbrushes, monkey wrenches or other tools. It makes me wonder, what if our prehistoric ancestors had Facebook and Twitter at their disposal. Just imagine how many likes the “discovering fire” or the number of retweets the “inventing the wheel” posts would get. But then again, they may not have had time to log on if they were too busy developing and inventing gadgets to help us get on with a better life, propelling us leap years ahead so we can reach higher ground, like inventing social media. Wait, what? Yes.
So eventually, we may have to curb the insatiable need to be desired and admired online and will just need to get on with it. Get on with inventing, creating, starting from scratch, to feel and live again as we are meant to do. As real as virtual "reality" can be, it simply is not. Nothing can replace the organic feel, sound, smell and clear unobstructed view experienced during a life event—and those fleeting moments are escaping with every “like” we are working so hard to attain.