WHAT’S YOUR NUMBER?
Social media has become a big part of my life and I’ll be the first to call myself out on it and openly admit it. I’m not ashamed of it – why would I be? It has helped me to stay in touch with one of my closest friends as she moved across the world from me; it’s given me countless of opportunities to express myself, it’s brought some amazing people into my life. But I still consider myself ‘healthy’ in the realm of social media; while yes I’ll sometimes mindlessly scroll through my newsfeed whilst waiting for my train to reach the station or a class to start, I can also go without it and not feel the ‘withdrawal’ symptoms some experience when being ‘cut off from the world’. But are you really cutting yourself off? Or are you merely shutting the door behind you and stepping out for some fresh air while your eyes capture the sunset – instead of your camera?
In this day and age, with technology running the world, everything is greatly impacted by social media, to the point where deleting your social media apps from your phone or other electronic device can easily be perceived as an act of self-love, extracting yourself from what’s captured on a couple inch screen and distracting yourself with simply being.
The social media world, it’s a trap – if you let it be one. If you don’t swim against the current of its rules, it’s far too easy to tangle yourself up in a cyber cycle where emotions and feelings are reduced to pixels and bytes and everything is fast and faster; the speedier the internet connection, the fresher the news. With everything just a click or a swipe away, it’s easy to become accustomed to the ‘art of fast’: fast news delivering forth the fast fashion and the latest scoop on how to upgrade your life. As if life were an app downloaded on your phone.
Numbers aren’t just a matter of stocks and Wall Street anymore; instead they’ve taken over the lives of many. I’ve had people tell me that they couldn’t score certain deals because their following wasn’t high enough and they didn’t want to cave into the taboo trend of ‘buying followers’ (which yes, it’s a thing, if you haven’t heard of it yet and yes, it is as dumb and bizarre as it sounds). In other instances my friends had to list down their social media handles when applying for jobs, with the question unsaid but hanging in the air: what’s your number?
I once went out with a guy who’d told me, completely shamelessly, that if he posts a picture on Facebook and it doesn’t get more than 20 likes in a certain amount of time, he’ll delete it, always. “What’s the most likes you’ve ever gotten on your profile picture?” he asked me whilst fishing his phone out of his pocket to open the app and show me his. He then proceeded to huff about how he doesn’t have nearly enough Instagram followers. I left him on the doorstep of my friend’s building that night, knowing that I could never be with someone who was so blatantly obsessed with numbers. Economists excluded.
It got me thinking; have we really reduced ourselves to likes and comments? Are we, as a society, so obsessed with fast things that relationships end before they can even begin? Have we found ourselves in a real life glitch we can’t get out of?
I’ve heard people say that if you’re not online nowadays, it’s as if you don’t exist. But they’re wrong; the living, the breathing, the existing starts beyond our screens. And while I won’t be deleting my social media anytime soon because receiving a snap from a friend in New York enjoying a concert and then afterwards telling me all about it is far too precious to me, I’m not saying no to every now and then taking a step back from it all. And looking around me to see what I’ll find, so I can make some memories and tell her all about it when I come back.
Text: Maja Podojsteršek