Lately, I've had a few moments of frustration culminate into a desire to be heard. Noticed. Stand out as the eccentric oddity that makes me unique. Yet, despite this I've noticed the primary interaction seems to be when I post content related to Soul Gaze Photography or otherwise cheerful perfection. Then, when I'm having a bad day or need a friend suddenly the interaction magically vanishes. Overtime, this has culminated into an infectious wound festering deep in my soul. While social media can be one of the greatest tools to leverage, it can also become one of the most deceivingly depressive and secretly controlling devils of gluttony in life. Not only is time wasted, life becomes a daily culmination of comparisons. Judgements. Quests for perfection based upon the jealousy of watching the life lived by others.
About a month ago, I posted the following message publicly on my personal Facebook page after enduring a severe stomach virus:
"With severe illness, comes the eventual recovery and thankfulness for the body's determination for survival. The sky looks brighter, the colors richer, smells more pronounced and life is just more appreciated. You then realize no one called you, offered to bring you anything, help with the kids or provide any source of comfort to encourage that survival except your Husband who was equally ill. It's a harsh reality when during recovery you realize that those who you thought were your 'best friends' for years or family or even just good friends either had no idea or were too busy with 'new friends' or relationships to be affected by concern. Social Media is a cruel digital devil, providing hundreds of 'friends' to camouflage a very lonely reality..How many have met me in person, regularly call me or come visit? Had I died, who'd notice beyond my wall being silent? I do appreciate those who commented get well wishes on my last post or support my photography work with comments and likes. That ALWAYS makes my day feel awesome, but to know my work is appreciated enough to be purchased helps me continue to create despite such melancholy thoughts. I often feel I am meant for another time or place and often wonder if my current state of social non-existence is due to the universe providing the desire to find that place. I'm out of sync with reality and am tired of the singularity of lacking solitude."
It was not a lust for attention, but a cry for help. A scream into the night for a friend. A best friend. Someone to be there when I call - for one of those I married and the other is lost in the depths of new love. The rest are busy in their new lives and no longer value past interactions. Others chose to misunderstand the intentions of decisions in my personal life meant for protection. Call it holiday melancholy during the darkness of winter, but I no longer wish to be subjected to the torture of loneliness fueled by the amazingly awesome lives of those more fortunate. I'm even considering leaving Facebook. Yet I know that like most, I need the connections for my business and hold on to the hope for interaction.
The incomplete truth is that this post is not designed to be depressing or hurtful, but to encourage thought. How often is this reality for those on our friends list? How often do we forget to be human? How many of us are now products of a society that exists primarily online or no longer sees the value in mutually satisfying social interaction due to the instant satisfaction of social media. All day, I watched my post. A social experiment of sorts. 10hrs later, I had six likes and four comments out of 1,135+ 'friends'. An obvious gap compared to the nearly instantaneous likes and comments when posting photos of my pets, photography or creative musings. This is a commonality among many of us who utilize social media to stay in touch. Post positive or 'cool' content and you're special. Post the truth or unexpected reality and suddenly crickets rise from the stillness like a zombie plague.
So, I've been thinking. Facebook sucks. Even if I was 'Miss Popular', there would be no truth besides this. What has Facebook done for me? True, there have been moments where I've received words that I'll hold dear until I die. Or found a new friend, family member or client. The downside is, these positives have masked even worse evils. The decline of a social life that used to be. Of course, changes are expected after high school graduation as friends move on towards better adult lives. Then Facebook took over the short-lived popularity of MySpace and became the revolutionary way for popularity to bully the entire world. Of course it's juvenile to feel jealousy and envy the glorious lives of others, yet people forget that most of what is on Facebook is the happy moments of life and not the complete truth. Facebook is the ultimate poster child for incomplete truth. The false reality of the rich and famous, prosperous and free. It's usually the poor or unpopular that are not noticed and yet posting the most truthfully about their lives. No need to maintain social status or provide an incomplete truth when there are no expectations or time to focus on anything other than survival.
The more I've endeavored to obtain popularity through conformity, the more lonely life has become. It was far better to be an outcast with purple hair and a couple loyal friends than to be society's perfection in solitude or with false socialization among a fake reality.Yet, I remain in limbo between the longing for gorgeous modern feminist clothes of the wealthier boutique lifestyle and the eccentric freedom of dying my hair purple wearing what makes my soul feel feel free and expressively creative.
Someone commented on my post that I seemed social. Yet, how can this be possible? This is the incomplete truth hidden by social media. With the pain I have endured, my existence has been fairly singular. I've got my Husband and children, but outside this existence are few friends and little interaction with even family I've known since childhood. I rarely ever have photos to post of me with friends. All the photos of my life involve either me and my pets, Husband or kids and our adventures. None of this is a 'social life'. That's just an internal family. How can such a simple truth be hidden when it's so plainly visible? Or is it that people are too busy drowning in Starbucks and sunshine to notice those who are left standing in the shadows?
Social media has unexpectedly affected my social life in the absolute opposite way of its intended purpose. My sense of purpose and creative work has changed. I began to worry about the opinion of others without even realizing it. To post only out of perfection. Watching every single word, punctuation to avoid being attacked for imperfection. The same idiotic notion has poisoned my photographic work as well. Countless folders remain collecting digital dust on my hard drive. Some even still reside on my old computer. All are backed up, yet unedited. Sometimes I feel nostalgic so I browse the folders with sudden lust to share my vision. I see some images that make my soul vibrate with longing to stop time and return to that moment or have the endless time to edit them all. Yet still, once editing begins, this doubt creeps back like a storm cloud until the torment of torrential doubt washes away all confidence. The freedom to create what my soul sees stolen by fear. Replaced by feelings of overwhelming lack of time and guilt for owning my gloriously gorgeous camera and tools of creation.
As I approach 30 this year, I suddenly long for changes. I've endured many things in my life that should never have happened, yet each dreadful occurrence had a purpose. Their existence could not be avoided. Every bad day, mistreatment by others and missing moment nearly breaks me. The unimaginable power of depression tries to drown me in hopeless shadows. Yet somehow, I find beauty in the most uninteresting or rarely noticed things in life.
- I am not afraid to dance in the rain, catch snowflakes with an open mouth or sing aloud in public places.
- I have contagious energy and the ability to make kids smile, entertain the elderly and cause others wonder about my sanity.
- I am a dreamer. Existing in a world devoid of black and white, yet with a soul full of glitter and enchantment. A world where to be unique is to be a constellation, shining bright like stars, among an empty, dark sky.
- I will forever be searching for a kindred spirit, but realize that much like Anne [of Green Gables] I will first be forced to endure many misunderstandings until the day that I can find myself and be who I was meant to be.
The mask of social media is dark and hides the light from within. Who we are and who we will become should never be determined by the vanity and social interactions of others. We are the universe from where our star shines brightly. Deep down, everyone feels alone sometimes. We must learn to adapt and fight back against these feelings that spiral into doubt and despair. Learn to love who you are and where you are in this moment. To find life outside the box that social media has created, you must remove the mask and walk freely into the future.