Paradoxical, by Aeon Bliss
More and more I see people hungering for a taste of reality and it’s an interesting paradox, that the more “connected” we become via different social media sites like Twitter, Facebook et al, the more disconnected we feel. Both are a sorry substitute for face to face, screen-less human companionship and not for all the usual mushy reasons about facial expressions and being able to hold someone’s hand, either.
They are cheap stand-in’s because they allow for so much editing en route from the source to the reader. It’s the difference between watching a live show with all its flubs and awkward pauses and watching one that has been carefully scripted and rehearsed, painstakingly choreographed. The latter looks better aesthetically but the former feels more real. The former IS more real. And this is what we’re missing and searching desperately to create.
When we put a computer or a TV screen or a camera between us and whomever we are trying to communicate with, an unspeakable amount of information gets lost in translation. Somewhere amidst all of the revision, editing, and paring down, authenticity is lost. We’re not in public, looking someone in the eye, we have complete control over the image we present for consumption. Indeed this control, this agency is responsible for much social media’s popularity in the first place but it’s also why we’re starting to see studies claiming that Facebook makes us depressed and blog communities beginning to lash back at their former heroes.
The content, the finished product, the brand, (whatever you want to call it) becomes so parsed, so tight, that nothing negative is allowed through. The person doesn’t seem like a person anymore, their fallibility has been lost and instead of identifying with them we begin to feel envy or resentment.
How can you fall in love with content?
We see the DIY projects and vacation pictures but not the fights, never the long nights where they feel alone and aimless, like they’ll never be what they once wanted. I don’t think it’s about sensationalism, nor schadenfreude because reality television eats and breathes both but still, after the program ends the viewer is left searching, trying to pick through the carefully constructed artifice to find something real.
It perpetuates itself, this yearning. The more we long to feel connected and a part of someones WHOLE life- not just the pretty parts- the more we seek out reality shows and blogs and Facebook friends, and we come up short every time.
You know that game where someone asks you what superpower you’d pick if you could only choose one? I choose invisibility every time. The ability to sneak into people’s lives, be a fly on the wall for their conversations and relationships, habits and rituals – it would be amazing. I could exist for days just watching how people live, what they do when they aren’t their public selves.
I’m searching too. And also trying to modulate myself to present an accurate picture, not just the pretty bits or funny bits, the stuff that makes me look good.
It’s not easy and most of the time I don’t even understand why I’m trying in the first place, except perhaps to replicate that which I wish I found elsewhere. It’s something I find hard to explain to people when they ask why I write.
“To feed the intangible hunger” I should reply sagely, “To solve the self-perpetuating paradox.”
We keep finding new ways to elude ourselves.