Be prepared for a rant. I forewarned you:
Hey guess what, this picture I put up on Instagram of my dog has 30 likes. Yahtzee! My Tweet about the mumbling homeless man doing the moonwalk just got 17 retweets! Score! And all the while I think to myself, so the fuck what? My question for you is, has social media bred a group of self absorbed narcissistic people within Gen-Y? In short, the answer is yes.
All we do is crave validation through social media. I honestly think that social media is a problem. That’s not to say I’m not monumentally involved in every outlet available, but I do think it’s become an issue. Somewhere post the launch of Facebook we as a generation have lost the ability to stay in touch offline. This ever increasing online presence and our digital footprint that we now hold, has bred a group of people more concerned with their “likes” and less concerned if we’re actually liking the things we’re doing. We live in this YOLO world, with this every moment counting philosophy, but nobody appreciates anything that happens anymore. All we as a generation today do is crave other peoples attention and approval. And more often than not, a strangers approval. We seek likes on pictures on Instagram and Facebook. We seek followers on Twitter. and All the while we’ve lost our ability to communicate to one another and to develop or maintain a real world interpersonal relationship. I think Twitter is great as a social media platform and use it daily to discuss everything from sports to pop culture. But there’s something to be said for “following” somebody.
In essence, the platform has created a generation of followers, effectively creating a group of copy cats and wannabes. Instagram has made it possible for us to digitally share every picture we ever take which is awesome. But how often are we traveling to exotic beaches or viewing a dramatic skyscraper only to snap the picture and upload it without ever noticing the place we are? We’re more concerned with our image than imagining. Do we even realize the places we go anymore and take the time to admire the things we’re seeing in real life? We’re always trying to one up a person with our digital footprint. All we’re concerned about is fake interactions with people online, and we don’t even allow ourselves to get to know each other offline. We’re concerned with the # of Facebook Friends we have or the number of Twitter followers we gain or lose in a week. We text instead of call, we email instead of write, and all the while we’ve lost our ability to communicate. There’s no such thing as blind dates any more, there’s no surprises in life, there’s no secrets. We lost our ability to interact with each other on a real level, with actual human interaction.
I think social media is a problem and an addiction. I think we’ve all become mini digital celebrities in our own little worlds and have no true measure of what people think or feel about us. We’ve lost our ability to interact with the real world and the ability to appreciate the places we go and the people we go there with. All we do is crave attention, yearn for approval, and upload our ‘lives’ into our digital space. We’re minimizing the events in our life to how it will play out online.
I’ve come to a crossroads with my digital self. I no longer want to be concerned when someone asks me to be their friend on Facebook or when someone unfollows me on Twitter because ultimately who cares? Who is really worried about when someone is impressed or likes our digital footprint? Those things don’t matter. And the increasing number of people becoming digitally self absorbed and the level of narcissism growing amidst our generation is a concern. And one I’m not entirely sure we can avoid. Until you take the time to unplug and actually appreciate the events in your life you’re going to be locked in this vicious cycle of digital narcissism. You have to take the opportunity to turn off your phone, your computer, and your tablet and just appreciate the things going on around you. Life is happening around you and you’re missing it by being concerned if your Tweet is funny or if your pictures will be liked. Live your life for you and forget worrying about what other people think. Appreciate the nuances you witness daily and acknowledge them and remember them even if you don’t update it on Facebook.