Warning: F bomb ahead.
I had such a powerful epiphany today as I scrolled through the endless postings on Facebook.
Is it possible that we have reached a state of information overload? As if our brains don’t already have enough of a task shifting through the insane amount of information that it is inundated with every waking second, dare we keep throwing more it’s way? The image of smoke wafting out of a human brain drifted into my mind as I stared blankly at the endless statuses and postings—I wasn’t sure if I should laugh or be very afraid.
When I was studying Journalism back in the good old days, the art of writing a well-constructed piece of work was something to which we aspired.
Back in those days, lazing about on a Sunday morning with a cup of coffee and the paper scattered across the bed was a ritual that many of us looked forward to. These days, people are too busy cramming as much as they can into the 48 hours that bridges the gap between last week and this week. They want their information like an order of fries at McDonalds—fast and they can’t imagine doing something which doesn’t detail their phones or computers.
Even our language has changed.
We use words like “tweet,” “retweet” ( as if the first time wasn’t enough…sigh) and “selfie” (which is actually a word in the dictionary now). We have “followers” (socially acceptable stalkers) and “statuses” that we can update. We can “like” and “share” pretty much anything we want. Jesus, it’s exhausting just talking about it… I need a nap now (yawn).
I find it fascinating that the very thing that is supposed to ‘connect’ us is actually disconnecting us.
We have become slaves to the incessant need to check our phones and twitter accounts, scurry to update our Facebook status or post a Vine. We are living in a huge fishbowl that everyone is welcome to stare into.
When did we become a narcissistic society voracious for constant mental stimulation and the need to share every detail of our personal lives with complete strangers?
Sure, being a writer, I am the first to say I enjoy having information right at my fingertips. But falling into a vortex of social media and becoming comatose for several hours on Facebook?
Nope, not happening folks.
At what point do we just say “fuck it” and jump off of this universal merry go round of media overload? When is enough information enough? Naturally this is a rhetorical question, because it’s painfully clear that we have become a society of media junkies who simply cannot get enough.
Insane amounts of people stagger bleary eyed, from their computers and iPads in the wee hours of the morning, only to check their phones throughout the remainder of the night in case some vital piece of information has come to light.
We have become slaves to our need for information and are completely unaware that it has become an addiction.
So, what’s next? A 12-step program called Information Anonymous? Will scores of people be filing into meeting rooms across the world, drinking coffee from styrofoam cups, sheepishly admitting they are powerless over social media and their lives have become unmanageable? Another image of a baby born with a hand fused to an iPhone pops up in my mind and this time I do shudder.
Of course there is an answer people—it’s called b-a-l-a-n-c-e.
Let’s face it, this whole social media thing is now part of our cultural landscape and it’s not going anywhere. But whether you play the reoccurring lead role in a modern day version of “The Lost Weekend…” Well, that’s entirely your choice.
Repeat after me “I am not a slave to my phone.”
Commit this mantra to memory and repeat it when the obsession to check Facebook grips you.
Granted, it’s no great mystery that connecting with each other is just part of being a social animal. But, it is up to each of us not to blindly allow ourselves to be swallowed up in a sea of information and become a slave to an insatiable need to update our status. We have to set limitations for ourselves and not become prisoners of our obsession to connect. We must learn how to master our impulses to look at Tumblr or engage in a marathon tweeting session—lest we forever lose sight of those simple pleasures once found lying around on a Sunday morning, sipping coffee and sifting through a sea of newspaper looking for the comic section.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editorial Assistant: Alicia Wozniak/Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photo: elephant journal archives, Flickr/Ben+Sam