BY HARRISON CARTWRIGHT
A natural progression of logic would dictate that the further we as a civilisation advance towards the future, the easier things would become – both for us on a larger scale, and on a smaller, more personal one as well. Recent decades have seen an advent in social media technologies to the point where an almost blanket-like coverage of every facet of our lives is easily achievable.
Something about that little rectangle of light that is a smartphone, ultimately designed to make our lives easier, only ends up throwing us into despair. At an age where we’re all plagued by FOMO (Fear of Missing Out), social media seems to be the leading inducer of such syndrome. There isn’t a single aspect of your life that’s safe.
Example one. It’s a bitterly cold winter morning. Your alarm has just gone off. You’ve got 8 hours of work ahead of you, a commute to the CBD and the undeniable acknowledgement that you’re stuck in the exact same geographical position you’ve spent at least 95% of your life. Forty five minutes later, you’re on a packed train wondering how so many people can possibly achieve such a potent mix of body odour and booze before the sun has even made it all the way into the sky. Searching for a distraction, you reach for your smartphone.
Oh, look! Half your graduating class from high school is sunning it up in Europe and you now know thanks to Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and a myriad of other social media platforms. Of course, you can’t hate the person. Nor can you blame them. If you were somewhere exotic you’d probably want to share it with your friends too.
You can’t hate the person but you can hate yourself for postponing those travel plans, for not being in the financial position to take off at a moments notice, for just how dull your life seems in comparison. It’s okay you’re not travelling at the moment. You’re doing the sensible thing, working/studying hard. You’ll get there one day. At least you have that significant other to get you through the cold winter nights.
Wait. No. Think again.
You see, the smartphone is a metaphorical minefield for the modern single, with so many different features that seem to exist purely as a reminder of just how many times you’ve managed to fail at your own life, at least on a romantic level.
I’m looking at you, Graveyard-Of-Text-Message-Conversations-From Days-Of-Romance-Past lying in a neat collection at the bottom of my iPhone’s messages app. Or Grindr-Icon-Surreptiously-Hidden-At-Bottom-of-App-Folder-So-Nobody-Will-Know-My-Seret-Shame. That’s not to mention the seemingly endless parade of happy couples who seem determined to digitally scrapbook every single passing moment of their relationship, across multiple completely public social media networks.
Bonus points if you catch someone celebrating their 4-month anniversary. Triple points if it’s someone you once dated. Quadruple points if you happen to be online at that exact moment they update their relationship status.
Then there’s a professional level. It’s one that is just that little bit crueler than the aspects referenced above. There are fewer things more frustrating than being snowed under by your own cruel mix of tertiary education and dead-end retail/hospitality, then logging on to Facebook to see a slew of people achieving their career dreams, pulling in some serious coin, and seeming to be so goddamn together.
Again, you’re happy for them. Stoked for the successes. But you just can’t seem to shut off that nagging voice intent on reminding you just how far you feel from one day being in a similar place. After all, you’re the same age, from similar socio-economic backgrounds, running in similar crowds. Where did you go so wrong? What are you missing here?
We all try to put our best foot forward when it comes to online personas. If you say that you don’t then I’m sorry, you’re lying. When life gets rough, the hardest part can sometimes be seeing how easy things are happening for those around you. It’s impossible not to measure your life against others, particularly for our own age demographic, fraught with insecurity about own choices.
Whether we like to acknowledge it or not, our lives exist on a digital playing field now, and checking in on all the wonderful things we’re missing out on is now just a button-tap away.
Happy Wednesday, folks.
Article by Harrison Cartwright, a self-confessed smartphone addict and final year Communications and Creative Arts student at UOW. Follow him on Twitter, and don’t forget to Like BULLSH!T on Facebook.