I think it’s time we reevaluate our relationship with technology.
It’s easy to get caught up in the meaningless onslaught of photos on five separate social media sites, keto-paleo-low carb-high fat diets, and mason jars filled with smoothies and homemade granola. Kettle bell routines and seemingly flawless make-up tutorials that never seem to work out, rustic weddings and GoPro fiends, scaling mountains for the seemingly effortless shot; no matter where you look, technology seems to be bombarding us with these unrealistic, unattainable glimpses of reality.
It’s also easy to get sucked into this negative side of media, feeling unworthy compared to fitness moguls, glorious freelance models and hippy-chic traveling men and women on Instagram. Or perhaps it makes you feel a little less worthy in another way, whether it’s unproductive or less creative than ideal. A level of “not good enough” seems to be highlighted quite a bit when discussing technology and social media. To some degree, the reality displayed by social media is distorted like a funhouse mirror, making others look tall and striking, while our own reflections look misshapen, bumpy and just not as cute as you had hope.
However, the continually improving technology we are exposed to allows us to develop as individuals and grow on a number of levels – dare I say emotionally, mentally AND spiritually?
Think of it this way: while we can focus on all the distorted tidbits of media that may be a negative influence on us, we can also benefit from the communities that develop on all social media sites. While there is (and always will be) negative voices online and in the real world, I think most people would be refreshed to see the number of positive, supportive individuals that step forward in the realm of social media.
Through a number of outlets and to varying degrees, the strong undertone of the general goodness of humanity shimmers through, which is something that deserves far more attention than it gains. The clearest and most obvious example I can think of is Humans of New York page as seen on Facebook. The next time you’re feeling down on society and humanity, take a gander at the top comment section of HONY photos. I promise, it will make you look at the world a little differently.
The open lines of communication developed by social media allows people to hear the voice of others, no matter how shy or confused or far away that voice might be. Poetry is spread en masse, blogging platforms allow for individuals to hand craft websites that display their internal state in a cohesive, tangible fashion. Street artists are able to share their works while young teenagers can vent their angst to people who are willing to give them words of support.
The people you follow on social media shouldn’t be followed because of envy or because their reality seems so appealing through your touch screen, instead they should act as a source of inspiration. No, I am not saying you should make their physiques your personal fitness goal this second, nor am I suggesting you start doing all the trendy things they might be doing. Instead, figure out exactly what it is you admire about them, and apply it to your own existence in a way that makes sense in your own life.
You like the person who travels the world? Take a walk through your city, or a day trip to the neighboring towns. Look at the stores, find out the history, and drive through old residential areas. Find trails, check out the local state parks and rundown Mom and Pop stores. Start small, and you’ll find that the traveler you so admire lies within yourself.
How about the artsy photographer you love? Flawless portraits, the moody, whimsical colors that dabble the landscapes they shoot, something you’ve always respected and been drawn to. Take out your phone, set aside some time, and emulate their artwork. Find your own artistic voice in the process.
I think you understand the trajectory I’m following: use technology, which has become an enormous part of our existence, to your advantage. Allow it to help you develop as an individual. Embrace the positive qualities that readily exist within the realm of technology, beyond the ease of living it grants us.
Each day, we are given a massive quantity of input from the internet and associated apps, websites, and blogs. We hear how technology is pulling us further and further away from those around us, isolating us, making us live outside of the present moment.
It’s time to respectfully, gently, disagree. There is so much that can be learned from the brilliant souls who share themselves with social media, including yourself. There’s a lot of goodness in the world as a whole, and I think it’s essential not to lose sight of that. With that being said, the world we live in is very substantially impacted by technological growth, and I suggest we embrace it, while infusing our social media usage with a bit of reflection. What makes you happy? What do you want to learn about yourself, or what skill do you want to develop? You have it at your fingertips. It’s just a matter of sorting out who you are, and where you want to be.