Fear of becoming Irrelevant
I couldn’t sleep well tonight. Only a few hours. A thought came to me immediately after waking up. I’m noticing an increase of anxiety in my generation. With the explosion of social media (Facebook, Instagram, SnapChat, etc...) I think my generation (Gen Y / Millenials) suffers from a fear of becoming irrelevant. Of becoming forgotten. Not necessarily by history, but by our social circles. So we turn to filling these digital social media sites with our personal lives in hopes that our ever growing network of “friends” will continue to deem us relevant, “follow” our lives and therefore gives us this abstract and superficial justification of our existence. The worrisome part is that I think this is coupled with a deep lack of confidence. We seem to spend more time on social media attempting to remain relevant because we aren’t confident in our ability to be deemed important to the people we interact with in a physical platform (aka the real world) which would consist of a smaller number of people.
Quantity counts, right? Well, I’m not sure quantity is important. In fact I’m sure everyone will agree that the quality of a relationship is much more important that the quantity of relationships we have. Of course networking is important and it plays its role. However, unless you are a business you have got to stop caring about the quantity of “followers or “friends” you have and focus more on the quality of the relationships you have with the people you know. Have confidence in yourself that you can and actively do make a difference in the lives of other people.
This is much more easily accomplished in real life where you can interact with another person in a shared space. You can exchange body language, which is a form of language with such subtlety and nuance the likes of which written or spoken word cannot hope to compare. Have confidence that even with a smaller group of friends you can impact their lives more fully and I assure you not one of those friends will ever let you feel irrelevant. We run around searching for meaning in life and latch onto things that give us an identity like the content we share or the way people think about us. Be yourself. I promise you that you will be magnetic and your life will improve along with your relationships and the lives of your friends. Your stats may go down, and you may feel like you’re doing everything but attracting relationships, but you can still make an impact on the world. You can make an impact on someone else’s world. You will not be written off into obscurity and oblivion in the eyes of those who love you.
...There's also something to be said about privacy.
I suppose I'll be the first here to say that this is a projection of my own situation. I'm an artist who moved away from New York city (four years ago) after college and am finding it difficult to establish myself, seek out opportunities, and even decide upon a creative direction to pursue. I'm also not one for sharing personal issues such as this. This is equal parts bravery and needing to do something to get these thoughts and this anxiety out of my own head. If they're out there in the world (even the digital one) they seem to lose some of their weight.
Nothing is made easier by moving out of the city aside from privacy (a big plus) and walks in the park (also a plus). I find that I've turned to relying too heavily on social media thinking that since I am not "where all the art is happening" (not an entirely accurate sentiment) then I must find a way to establish and maintain relevance. Up till now I've (foolishly) thought that social media would provide some sort of "ticket" (and indeed it has for some people). I've found that I lacked (and still struggle to find) the confidence to believe that without the numbers (followers, etc...) providing evidence of my worth and proof of my skills as an artist I simply can't approach those possible new opportunities that await me. But I have things to say! I have things to show people that I know only I can see in the way that I see them! I can't always find the right words to say what it is I'm thinking, all of the often overwhelming things I'm feeling, so I make pictures in hopes that somebody is listening. I do it because I need to. If for nobody else than for me.
I hope to continue dissociating, or at least migrating away from social media and the digital world in the coming months. Instead, I hope to use that time which would otherwise have been spent drafting posts and thinking of hashtags more constructively. With people. In real, shared spaces filled with real opportunity and with the ability to foster collaborative, creative projects. The real world. I won't completely disappear from the digital world. It has an undeniable convenience for communicating and sharing work with friends and family who live far away. I will however focus more on the quality of my work and what and by what means I share that work. I will turn away from the 140 character limits and the mundane FaceBook posts. I'll work on establishing a respectable and interesting, perhaps thought provoking blog. Less content? Sure. But it will be better. It will meet a higher standard which I will set for myself.
This really wasn't meant to be a public journal post...But it started to feel good. I really only wanted to share my thoughts on the growing level of anxiety in my world and how I think social media not only may cause that, but it feeds into it. I hope if you read this you will be kind, and respectful in your comments. Hopefully you will have read this and taken something from it.
"“I know what I have given you...
I do not know what you have received.”
– Antonio Porchia
Yours in Distress,
P.S. I'm currently reading two books which I'm sure will contribute some more ideas on this subject matter. These two books are:
In the Swarm: Digital Prospects, by Byung-Chul Han
Digital Cosmopolitans: Why We Think the Internet Connects Us, Why it Doesn't, and How to Rewire it, by Ethan Zuckerman
#writing @ellowrites #fear #irrelevance #relationships #socialmedia #anxiety #insomnia #quotes #artist #art #creativity