The current world population is 7,280,902,772. Within minutes, those last three digits will double, then triple. I remember taking this sociology class in college. We were required to keep checking the population on a website that tracked births and deaths per day, with the “clock” continuously ticking as the number climbed, births far exceeding deaths.
The world is not shrinking. It is expanding, rapidly, with most people paying no mind to fact or consequence. Life hardy seems cyclical, the world small, with those ten garish numbers flashing in your face. Then why does it feel like the walls are closing in the second that tab is clicked out?
I scroll through my Instagram photos feed, the one with images related to those you follow. I see how much people meticulously share. I see the calculation involved in strategically placed cleavage, attire, baby announcements and birthday parties. Is more effort being put into the surface that gets “likes” and “shares,” or is more put into the core, the part that keeps you up at night, fuels dreams and mends shortcomings?
I think we’re all desperately grasping for something to make us stand out amid a multiplying newsfeed of personas. After all, a non-digital reality bears no filters on bad hair days, offers no character count for us to type up before sharing. Every time I reach for the camera app on my iPhone, guilt immerses as I realize the indulgence, and the disservice I’m doing to my potential as a human.
The world is shrinking. We have more interactions in weeks than perhaps most had in years only decades ago. We are compulsive categorizers that merely scratch the surface of others through a couple lines of a bio and recent pictures from a concert. A dismal thought, but I can’t help wonder if there’s less variation in personality and interests based on the abundance of strategic sharing and digital colonization. Are we being influenced or defined?
In all honesty, I don’t have a solution. There are little things here and there I do to maintain the personal balance and sense of self to, well, go through the motions with minimal damage. Read, write when possible, listen to music without a screen—but, most importantly, observe. Notice. Take it all in, the way the dirt and weather changes the brick color on the building by your apartment. Look into a stranger’s face and think about what they ate for breakfast. These are silly, maybe trivial seeming, but they are real moments.
When you consider the nuances, suddenly, the world seems much bigger. The real newsfeed is when you step outside.