On social media and writing

Burst

Recently, I’ve wondered about my personal position about social media. Except for blogging, I don’t like social media very much. I hardly do anything with my Facebook account; my page’s content is primarily provided through the faithful tagging of friends who have not lost faith in my missing online self. I have a Twitter account, but I don’t check that very often either. Actually, I even find Twitter rather intrusive. I feel that it prevents me from being fully present, like as if I’m perpetually distracted by a like a persistent buzz on my ear about random snippets and people’s conversation. Heck, I don’t even like texting.

For a while, all of this made me think that maybe I just really hate people. But I do like people, only I like them when we’re face to face. I like them when they’re in my present, and not some subtext, or a running ticker tape at the back of my mind. In short, I like to keep my moments as clean, focused, and silent as possible.

The only thing that has ever really appealed to me is blogging, mostly because it doesn’t call attention to itself the way Facebook or Twitter does. It’s writing, it’s journaling, it is wide open spaces. I like doing it. And though it’s open to whoever wants to read it, it doesn’t ask for it. I just want it to be sincere, as sincere as possible. It’s something that I find difficult to do on Facebook, because it feels threatening– as if everyone’s eyes are around you. You never know who’s lurking and making misinformed conclusions about your life.

What Facebook shows only snippets of one’s life; not how one’s life really is. I’m sure some are so given to the enterprise that they use it to engineer their image: here’s me having the time of my life, here’s me being smart, here’s me being sophisticated, adventurous, rich, funny, whatever. This is my awesome life, people. That’s why people should always be wary of what conclusions they answer to “What Everyone Does in their Twenties” because most of it really just shows the highlights. But the effects of too much Facebook merits a separate post that won’t intrude on this one.

* * * * *

My question is why are we so concerned with recording the minute flux of our daily lives? Here’s a picture of what I ate, here’s where I am, this is what I feel, I’m with these people,  this is what I feel about random news in the internet that does not really concern me.

The other day, I wondered if incessant reporting of everything is a symptom of the need to preserve. I wonder if writing, that early invention of humanity, was one of the first attempts to put a stopper to the incessant influx of time and forgetting.  Memory, after all, is the basis of identity. We are what we remember of our past. What if, underneath all this, is the instinct to make our mark, to try and to ensure that we will live long past our death? The funny thing is, now memory is literally externalized and expanded because of the web. Our ever strengthening memory is the sturdy wall that keeps us safe from the rain outside that washes everything away.

But the question is, what do we want to preserve? What is it about that plate of dessert that just aches to be included among the enduring annals of human memory? Shouldn’t we start curating what we keep? Otherwise, we’ll all just be mental hoarders.  I’m a bit afraid that the fast nature of social networking sites only encourages us to constantly move about, but never sit still. We collect but can’t appreciate. In gathering too much, we can’t dwell. We’re just letting the rain in. I’m afraid of record-keeping that becomes meaningless. Hoarding.

I have a diligent friend who never forgets to take pictures and videos. She has something to come back to; she preserves little moments of happiness. I want that too, I want to remember things, I want to remember my ideas. I want a chest of these things so that one day I can look them over one by one, and marvel at how much I’ve changed, how little I’ve changed. I want to remember what I said I’ll do, what I said I’ll be. There is much joy in visiting the past.

So I always resolve to journal more often, to take more pictures. I want a journal about my everyday life, one that is a pause in the flux of life. A moment to appreciate, to witness a moment of happiness, inspiration, sadness, or anger. But I’m wary of Facebook and Twitter that just encourages us to fire, fire, fire away.

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