In an age of overexposure, shameless self-promotion, and understated braggery - not engaging in any of the above sets you apart from the masses. Our stalwart social media outlets Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, and Twitter have made it all the easier to spread your name, views, and face anywhere and everywhere in a bid for attention, likes, and approval from friends and strangers, real or imagined. While these tools have supposedly brought us closer together by allowing us to see what our loved ones are doing day to day, haven’t they simultaneously estranged us from others by engendering us into these little megalomaniacal bubbles of self-centered propagation?
Tis a gnarly concept when society underhandedly admits that the heavy global issues we currently face are not social media friendly and therefore have no place in the sun. News, education, and enlightenment are the nemeses of LOL-landia. It is like day and night when one jumps from one of many mainstream news sources to any light-hearted channel, entertainer, or even good friend on Instagram. Countless hordes of our populace escape reality to emulate celebrities who take the oft-traversed road of mainstream methodology by posting selfie after selfie, workout video after video, sponsored posts for a weight loss tea, shampoo, or their own recently-launched app rather than post something with a deeper cause. News channels have become so inundated with real dark truths and uncomfortable pills to swallow that people almost need fodder on the complete opposite end of the spectrum so as to not become overly downtrodden with our current state of affairs. Real life has become so unbelievable that we now try to drown out the sounds of our homeland’s political ridiculosity and foreign land’s instability with less and less substance in our feeds.
While these tendencies may distract us for the time being, even persuade us to be more in line with them, ultimately there is much more to daily existence than what meets the eye. So much more to this material world than the things one can touch or see, consume, or capture in a selfie. Possessions you have and places you go may be part of sharing your story but the way in which you share is everything. Subtly boastful or outright conceited gestures show through the screen so clearly. The way you’ve angled the camera just right, filtered your face, positioned your body, product placed your beloved status treasures in the frame, posed with what or whomever - is so contrived, staged, and inauthentic that it detracts from the beauty of the moment. A moment can never be recreated and that’s what makes its ephemerality beautiful. Life is happening serendipitously second after second with each frame being worthy of capture - all the more reason to let it be.
Preserving moments for yourself and truly living in the moment with those around you is sacred. And when you don’t broadcast it to the world it’s more special because only those who were there know what it was like to experience: be it the birth of your baby, a solemn funeral of someone near and dear, an impassioned debate (attendees at the recent Presidential Debate had to check their phones at the door and were instead given disposable cameras), an out of this world musical act, an awe-inspiring vacation on an island with no cell reception (gasp!), a joyous reunion of family or friends, a spontaneous invite to a secret location (a friend recently visited FKA Twigs’ new production studio and everyone had to put their phones into a sealed envelope at the entrance) — these are all events that get seared into your brain and are remembered forever, not necessarily on your Insta feed for all to see. These moments are often rarely captured because no image could ever do it justice or it’s simply too private. But if there’s no proof did it really happen? It feels as though there is a need for people these days to carefully create and curate online personas and document everything from their post-gym half-dressed body to their new handbag or shoes or melancholic (but perfectly made-up) face as they sip an iced-mocha while stuck in traffic. What are they trying to say and whom for?
The tendency for women and men alike to present their glorious new-age prowess and scantily clad selves to millions of oglers the world over seems de rigueur and if you don’t do such things you’re simply out of the loop. Such are the days when vanity and self-absorption reign supreme. But these acts of showmanship don’t leave much to the imagination. Maybe you want to show off because you've got it going on so Hi 5 for you but when your Insta starts to look like a smutty spread for GQ, it begs the question: who is it for? Yourself? Your future boyfriend? Wife? Or for others to fawn over how perfect you are and wish they too were so lucky? If you're so comfortable in your own skin then one doesn't have to show it to anyone. Maybe an image here or there to let us know you’ve got it goin’ on but why all the time? Keep that shizzle private yo! But alas, nothing's private anymo. And yes, I suppose I have an issue with that.
It may sound strange, but hiding — while hardly en vogue — can in fact be more powerful than always showing. Leave it to the imagination. People may wonder what you’re up to, what you might be doing, where you’re going. Instead of always knowing, they get tidbits here and there and it makes the next nugget you do share that much more powerful. Sharing is one thing but oversharing is vapid, vain, and gets old quick. Keeping up with the Joneses, the times, and yourself is exhausting, addictive, never-ending. When you base your actions on the reactions of others, it’s disingenuous. You’re so easy to reach and so quick to feel flattered - it’s cheap! When you place such value on the superficial one’s feeling of self-worth often fluctuates and can suddenly hit rock bottom. This may come in the form of a troll’s comment, a friend’s sneer, half as many likes as your usual, and so on and so on.
Now more than ever, there remains something to be said for those who hide and are humble. Those who go against the grain are those who resist the urge to constantly broadcast their version of themselves to the world. Instead perhaps they look inward at what counts from the inside out. They are honest with themselves and while realizing that society needs to change, they realize that it is unable to without changing themselves. Humility is one of the most important aspects one can possess. But in order to have humility one must have a high level of self-confidence. Confidence in oneself is what I believe many in our generation and the generation below us are lacking. We are growing up and living in an age of Perfection and Photoshop, Immaculateness and Impossible Ideals, Magazine Magic and Buy-Whatever-You-Need-To-Make-It-All-Better. So no wonder nobody’s humble, firstly they are way too insecure to even come to grips with their own power and what to be humble about.
Self-respect and respect for others go hand in hand with being humble. And so does being grateful for whatever one has - whether that’s a lot or not much at all. We can bring peace and understanding to this world not through flamboyant shows of wealth or contrived beauty but through self-awareness, confidence, and humility. A bit of mysterious elusiveness never killed anyone. A month long social media hiatus does not equate with social suicide. Not handing it all over and pushing yourself out in full view allows you preserve sacred things for you. While it really is like swimming against the current of popularity to walk this earth with humble bones, a journey worth making is never without its challenges and disruptions to the status quo.