Modern life lacks reality.
So much of what we do these days is linked to technology, the internet, our mobile phones. We live life through a screen. Don’t get me wrong, I think it is rather fabulous that we can connect with people on the other side of the world, see their smiles and hear their voices. I love that I can receive a picture of the dogs at home from my mum at any given point, and that I can send a picture of my day to people wherever they happen to be. It is brilliant that we can stay in touch with friends and family so easily.
There is, however, the simple truth is that everything is altered, filtered. I look at Facebook, for example, and cannot help but compare my own life to that of others. But of course what we all so readily forget is that the posts and updates on Facebook are carefully selected, censored and filtered to make them as exciting and positive and successful as possible. I am not judging. I do the same. A photo I take of my dog is filtered to make it look sunnier and captioned with some happy phrase when in reality, it was probably a grey day during which I felt utterly rubbish because I had aches and pains all over the place. But for some reason, I alter that and in return I get likes and comments which make me smile. Do I do it for approval? Not exactly. But I don’t really want to post something that reflects the depressingly dull reality of my day to day life. I’m honest about that at least.
So why is it that I look at other people’s posts and wonder “how can they be so much happier/more successful/together than I am?” Because I know that they’re doing the exact same thing as me if not worse. Only posting the things we want the world to see, the things we think other people will look at in a positive light. But that’s what social media does. It forces us to look at everyone else’s lives as if they’re better than us. We obviously want everyone to think that our world is going around just swimmingly despite reality being completely the opposite at times. No-one wants to see our bad days.
So. Given that we all know the truth of the situation, why do we insist on continuing the ridiculous cycle? I’m not saying we should stop putting filters on photos (because honestly, who’s going to stop?) and I’m not saying we should start positing the negative aspects of our lives, because a facebook page full of positivity; no matter how false; is better than a page full of misery. I merely think that perhaps we should remember the truth. That behind all of the well angled photos, emphatically upbeat statuses and dramatic life updates that make you feel like perhaps you’re failing at something, there are real lives which are as messy and confused as your own. And they’re probably looking at your posts and thinking “wow, they’ve really got a clue…I wish things were working out like that for me”. Maybe we ought to appreciate what we actually have a little more, and worry about other people are doing a little less!
On another note entirely maintaining only a tenuous link to my gripes with the internet dictating our lives, I’m going to ramble on about internet dating for a wee while.
I’ve been giving it a go. Nothing serious, because that’s a bit scary to be honest. But after my initial reluctance, I’ve been using a couple of dating apps to meet people. And I have actually met some people. Which, as some of you will know, is a pretty big deal for panic-ridden anxiety-fuelled me. And it was fine to be honest. No psychos or sleazeballs. I think I have somehow dodged a bullet there, as the screenshots Jenni sends me of her app messages border on the horrific at times. I’ve had nothing like that. In fact, I’ve mostly experienced pleasant conversations with seemingly normal guys. The ones I’ve then met up with have been nice, decent guys with genuine personalities and my panicky instincts have been able to settle down into a mild “he could still be a murderer though” undercurrent. Again, a pretty big deal for me!
So, I can tell you’re dying to ask, what is my actual problem? Where am I going with this mini-rant? Well, let’s discuss the medium through which dating apps work. The internet. Messages. GIFs and emojis and pictures and texts. Great right? Well, yeah. Easy relaxed communication basically. I don’t mind it on the whole. Many of my friends will scoff at this point because they know I’m often pretty rubbish at texting. I forget where I’ve left my phone and don’t pick up my messages for hours, I start typing a reply and either get bored halfway through and delete it or forget to press send and leave it sitting there for hours. But that’s okay, because with these apps and such it doesn’t do to look too keen by replying on the quick. My laxadaisical attitude probably serves in my favour at this point.
And here’s where it stops being cool. The ease with which we can freeze each other out is ridiculous. Simply by not replying, we can totally destroy the confidence of another person. And it is just altogether too easy. There is no guilt attached, no real feelings to make us question our actions. When we make that decision to not reply, we don’t have to look anyone in the face when we do so.
Put simply, it’s just rude. One day you’re having a lengthy and fairly meanginful conversation with someone, punctuated by the odd emoji, and the next you’re being blanked out completely. With no warning, no explanation, no apology. Just a big empty nothing. And if you’ve actually met the person and they do it? Well, that’s just a non-existent slap in the face isn’t it?! It bothers me, the ease with which we can do that. It doesn’t take much to drop a message, “Hey, I’m really sorry but I don’t want to see you again”, or “I think we’re on different levels, but thanks for the chat”, or “I don’t see this going anywhere, sorry and good luck finding what you’re looking for”. How hard is that?! But of course, it still requires a minimal amount of effort. It is altogether much easier to just not say anything at all and leave someone hanging, wondering what on earth they did wrong.
Perhaps it’s wrong, but it’s hardened me even more. This has happened to me a few times so now I approach it all with the attitude of “urgh, figures, whatever, I can’t be arsed with this!” A bit sad? Yes probably. But that’s what happens. That’s what this technology does to us. At least in the real world if you’re going to reject someone, you have to do it openly. You have to look at their face and say the words. Would we just stare blankly and coldly at someone and then walk away from them without saying a word? Would we see and hear them coming towards us and just look past them and continue walking? Would we? Really? The more hard-hearted of us might say yes at this point, but really truly I don’t think we would. It would just be the rudest thing. And unfortunately thanks to social media and apps, we are facilitated in our cowardly rudeness. And I think that’s very sad.
But there we go, that’s the way it is.