Media & Technology

#SocialShutdown

Layinah Johanneson will be exploring the effects of social media within contemporary society, and how such spaces can create disassociation with reality.

What do we think of people without social networks or even a phone? An initial reaction could be to back away slowly with our hands up….

How is that even possible? Are you an alien? Are you not aware that we are living in an era where technology for most is a necessity? So you haven’t even had the chance of using the dog filter on Snapchat?

All these questions running through our minds. However, we dismiss the fact that the people who don’t participate might actually be a lot more content with their lives than those who do. Actually, thinking about it, the idea of not needing to gain approval through likes and comments sounds quite relieving.

The phone-in-hand ritual is performed on a daily basis for many, even in social situations. This makes me question the definition of social situations, and where the idea of ‘social’ seems to be heading. I can’t express how frustrating it is to be on a night out seeing someone videoing or snapping away, instead of living in the actual moment.

This usually happens at gigs or concerts where an artist will be performing right in front of people’s eyes, yet they will still be watching through their phone screens as they record. Has society become that disengaged with reality where you can be in the company of friends or family and they are more interested in seeing what Samantha’s eating on Facebook?

I often wonder how people would react if social media and networks shutdown, hence the hashtag title. If social media was abolished, would there be a change in culture, in behaviour, in attitudes towards life itself? (by the way, I am advocating this social shutdown, a revolution is required in order for change, Che Guevara clone over here). Seriously, would people actually then engage in conversation, would people still value beauty and wealth as a necessity in life. The whole dynamics of social interaction would change, maybe the interaction would be even more genuine. I don’t know it’s just a thought, the possibilities are endless. I personally believe the world would be a much happier, positive place.

There is a place in the world for social media clearly, but I don’t feel it should over-ride reality. There are positive uses for it e.g. expression, knowing what’s going on within your community and worldwide, it can benefit us all in terms of important events, things that are going on, news, alerts, entertainment etc. I guess it’s catered to the individual and how they wish to engage with it.

Speaking from a personal perspective I have probably joined every social network site there has been for example, Bebo, (2007 nostalgia at its finest) Myspace, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc. However, I soon came to the realisation that they aren’t for me. The only social network I decided to keep was Instagram, because it’s all pictures, and who doesn’t like to see a pretty picture of nice scenery and sunsets. I use it as a space to project positivity, to motivate myself and the people within my circle. If I see quotes, or images in which I feel could benefit me or others, I will upload. Not only this, I like to see different places in the world, and my passion for wanting to travel is fulfilled when I see beautiful views or pictures people from around the world have uploaded.

However even though I try project positivity, when I enter the realm of Instagram I am faced with a mix of emotions to overcome which I never intended to encounter or experience in the first place. As I access the explore page I am bombarded with obstacles and illusions which I come into contact with against my own will such as celebrities e.g. Kim Kardashian taking a selfie, girls posing half naked, or wannabe entrepreneurs posing with cash and gold watches.

I see thousands of people liking these pictures and commenting ‘goals’ and ‘inspirational’ without even knowing the wider context. This can be quite damaging as one photo can create a mixture of feelings and emotions, for example jealousy, however we are not shown anything outside this frame; we just have one picture to tell us all we need to know.

Material possessions are not the epitome of life, yes they can be beneficial in various ways, however focusing on your reality, what you can do for your community and society in general makes you a beautiful and enriched person. So to conclude I feel gratitude is the key for happiness. Not to be preachy or cliché, but I feel we should learn to look at the real world through the lens of what we do have rather than what we don’t have. If we are grateful, we will always have enough. If we focus on what we don’t have, we will always have it tough. Reality, is the here and now.