Tuesday, February 17, 2015
Resisting The Urge
Social media. It’s hard to know how to take it. You don’t want to appear old and reject anything that’s new and popular with young people. Then again you feel like there’s better things to do than ‘speak’ to a bunch of people on Facebook, get into a chat room or begin an Instagram.
Sometimes I think to myself, ‘am I possibly missing out here?’
I went out the other night with a friend of mine. We ate a pizza in Lonsdale Street in the city. He had his phone within easy reach all night- a special expensive Apple one. In fact, he used it a lot of the night. He sent his wife a picture of his dessert and she promptly texted him to ask for him to save some for her. He took a photo of the two of us and posted it on Instagram, and within twenty minutes over a dozen people he knew sent him a message saying that they ‘liked’ the photo (which gave him a real buzz). Next he talked about some items he recently sold on eBay, as well as some items he bought, including a plastic Barbie kit for his young daughter which shipped from somewhere near Sacramento. After conversations and laughter, or even during conversations and laughter, he scrolled down his phone to check whether or not any ‘friends’ had posted anything, people within his own immediate circle, as well as female models who happen to be partners of Australian rugby union players.
I spoke to a teenage girl recently- she is about fifteen- and asked her if she read anything during the recent holidays. She said she was busy reading all the time- (encouraging) - and told me it was in the form of text messages- literally about a thousand of them (discouraging). And then I thought about how social she must have been, and how being in a stuffy room brooding in your pyjamas and staying up all night reading or playing computer games would be decidedly less healthy.
I sometimes hear people say ‘I will chat to you later tonight’ and wonder what they really mean by ‘chat’, and whether or not that term has totally changed meaning. People of all ages on public transport get sore necks from bending their head over their phone for hours on end. They almost crash into you on the footpath because they are not looking where they are going.
I know adults who are on Facebook and would never want to give it up. It keeps them in touch, they say, with all sorts of people they would never normally be in touch with, and it serves the purpose of quenching their curiosity about what these people on their margins of their social world might be up to. Instagram seems to be popular with almost everyone. I can see how it might give you a real buzz to see where famous people might be in the world, or what Cindy wore to the races at Caulfield racecourse last weekend.
Then there is tweeting, or in other words the ‘twitter sphere’, which has always seemed to me to be too ridiculous for words. Then last night I became curious and impatient for a new MJ Hyland novel, so I looked at her website, and saw she is tweeting about this and that. For all I know, Sylvia Plath, at the age of 83, might be doing the same thing if she hadn’t decided to commit suicide all those years ago. Jim Morrison and John Lennon, too, and Melanie, who is still alive, does do it, although I’m pretty sure Joni Mitchell doesn’t.
So tweeting is definitely not for me. But there are days when I am sitting around looking at my lovely books, or going for a run, or driving the car somewhere, or reading The Age online, when I think to myself ‘am I missing out on something here? Am I so totally disconnected to the ‘real world’ that it is at a personal cost to me and preventing me from living a more fulfilled life?’ I wonder about this, and there are days when I would like to invite myself into the world of cyber gossip and see what all these people everywhere are up to. I could throw away the old clumsy and outdated Nokia phone I rarely ever use, the one where it is getting ridiculously difficult to read the smudged numbers and letters, and replace it with an Apple 6, 7, 8 or 9, with instant internet access. I might suddenly increase the number of ‘friends’ twenty, thirty, even a hundred fold.
Aaahh, but what’s the use? When would I ever get anything real done?