Ask Yourself Why | On Staying Connected

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      The internet, and the social-media age for that matter, exude presentation. Individuals use modern media outlets to display different facets of themselves in a myriad, endless ways. Some choose to highlight their creativity through photos they've captured, and others, their witty sides via less than 140 character tweets. Or, if you're like me, you enjoy posting photos for days on end, but can only attempt to craft marginally funny tweets (hey, at-least I try?) 

     An avid social media user for quite some time, I appreciate the aura of "connection", "self-love", and "expression" that social media bears. These are some aspects of different platforms that have championed my continued usage of the likes of Facebook and Instagram. From making friends from as far as Russia at a camp growing up to attending a boarding school with international students, I've never had all of my friends in one place. Admittedly, keeping in touch with friends throughout the years has not been one of my strong suits, but adding people on Facebook makes you feel somewhat connected once you part with people. With Facebook messenger easily accessible worldwide and photos/statuses at your fingertips, you feel apart of your friends' lives, to a certain extent. However, with the underlying barrier of a screen signifying the distance between someone and me, I find it difficult to maintain a humanistic connection through devices. While I acknowledge that social media helps aid the daunting element of long distance friendships, or whatever you'd coin it, we can very easily be sucked into the self-deprecating, "black-hole" of social media on a day to day basis. 

    I know both ends of the spectrum all too well-- using social media for pure, harmless fun and for affirmation, achieved by valueless likes and comments. Through my studies of philosophy, I've come to realize that Instagram and other outlets oftentimes swing to the latter end of the gamut, satisfying the "id", which operates in accordance with the so-called pleasure principle, as Sigmund Freud once described. Because of the instantaneous nature of technology, social media only fuels the temporarily satisfied id within our human nature. This is not to say that posting photos is an act that is in vain, as I, too, enjoy editing my photos and getting feedback via photo sharing apps. It's just that I've personally come to terms with these instances in which I realized that what was once fun had turned into a posed, fake façade of myself that I could not recognize. Instead of truly being present at certain concerts and social gatherings, I noted that it felt as if my peers and I were on a mission to capture the perfect photo of said event. We were seeking to capture a moment in time that we were not authentically experiencing, because we were too concerned with documentation. And that is not what living is supposed to be. 


     Most importantly, I came to the realization that I was subliminally basing my self-worth on what others thought, simply by repeatedly checking to see 'who' viewed my Snapchat Story and continuously snapping photos, only to arrive at one Instagram worthy picture. While checking your Instagram feed in the morning once you wake up or posting endless photos of yourself on vacation may be in good nature and entertainment, I personally found that I was only wasting my time and clouding my mind. My ephipanies, if you will, regarding my own perception of technology are continuously developing, but it was my time spent in Japan that proved to be eye-opening. With a 13 hr time difference making my distance from home seem even more vast and a portable wifi machine that was the size of my phone keeping me in touch, I felt like I was being put to the test. From our time spent in the hustle and bustle of Tokyo to days of tranquility on Miyajima island, I had the opportunity for the past two weeks to disconnect. At first, I kept up with everything happening at home--graduation parties, other people vacationing, beach days--but, when I decided to turn off my Wifi-Walker (Japan's greatest idea, ever), I felt a sense of peace. Not only did I begin to enjoy our trip more, but I also notcied myself caring less about what others were doing and whether or not they cared about what I was up to. Of course, I turned on my phone perdiocially to make sure nothing ground-breaking had occurred and to post some of my favorite photos, but not staying plugged in 24-7 felt refreshing. 


     During our trip, I finished the book "You Are a Badass" by Jen Sincero, as mentioned in a recent blog post. While this book, in terms of prose and style, definitely is not for everyone, I have gleaned valuable lessons from it that have prompted me to rethink my actions. In the chapter "I Know You Are But What Am I?", Sincero touches on these questions of affirmation, providing tips at the end of the lecture, as she does for each chapter. In a list of tips on how to not care what others think, she writes:


"1. Ask Yourself Why" 


"Why are you about to say or do something? Is it to be liked? To put someone down because you feel insecure?...""Or is it coming from a place of strength and truth? Are you doing it because it'll be fun? Because you feel called to do it? Because it'll change someone's like in a positive, martyr-free way?" (Sincero 68)


     Sincero calls for readers to reevaluate their motivations in all aspects of life with, these particular questions being universal catalysts of our potential happiness. If we stopped to acknowledge the groups of people we choose to surround ourselves with and the media we choose to look at, we would laugh at our toxic routines. Many factors of our despair are so immediate to us and our daily lives, that we hardly notice their harmful effects. None of this is to say that I am going to move to the middle of nowhere, deleting my various accounts and ostracizing myself from modern-day technology. However, I have decided to take social-media less seriously as it pertains to me personally (aka, outside of my blog platforms), and to just live my life as it is. With the recent tragedies in Orlando and the continuous violence around the world, we have no choice but to be present in our own lives by being honest, not only with others, but also with ourselves about how we can successfully achieve total happiness individually and with the help of each other. 


I hope you guys enjoyed this different style of post. Let me know your feedback on the topic at hand, and whether or not you'd like to see more content like this. xoxo Isabelle 

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