“If i post a picture on the internet and no one see’s it, am i really alive at all?” – Round Table Discussion Number 2.
The lads and i have a short discussion about selfies, roast beef rolls and what we hope will be an eventual technological social media revolution.
BJS: I know the irony of all this, I mean, I’m under no delusion that I’m a social media whore; but at what stage does online exposure become who you actual are as a figure. As a “person”. Obviously you portray you best self possible, or the way you would like your self to be viewed objectively – but is your online representation of yourself MORE of who you want to be or an actual interpretation? Some times I cancel plans with real people to stay home and talk to people I have never physically met. I send snapchat photos of my cat and me pulling really ugly faces to strangers and anticipate a reaction of any kind. There is something horribly sad about that, something very lonely.
“You may not no it but I am a very lonely person and I need your friendship” ~ An apology letter from Francis Bacon to his lover Hassert.
I guess im trying to say that the online world and the real word is a very blurry place for me. I feel comfortable in one but am forced to live in the other.
I once made pretty good friends with the old Italian woman who owns the flower shop at the front of the IGA in Westmeadows. Its not far from my place and it’s the most convenience place for me to shop, but I couldn’t keep up the niceties. I struggled with getting close with a stranger for no reason. So I stopped going to the IGA and shop at a crumby store 10 minutes away. I don’t know, same thing happened at a place where they sold the BEST gravey meat rolls. Now I take sandwiches to lunch. In real life I cant be an interpretation of anything.
Someone once said “You would be a good dude if you could get your tongue out of every ones ass hole”. That fucked me up. Strangers are often kinder than people you get close to. A relationship is suffocating. I have only met one person I can stand beside every day and not feel like I have to play a part and I’m marrying here… Maybe she can make me roast beef rolls and do the shopping, or is that asking way to much?
You know what I mean dudes?
RJW: It’s interesting because without creating a presence online I would not be having this discussion, or even have come into contact with any of you guys.
I fear for the younger generation whose lives have developed on Social Networks, and have created what I guess you would call avatars and profiles that give the impression of who they’d like to be, and how they’d like to be seen. My younger family members and teenagers I’ve met through work look to present their ideal ‘self’ through carefully snapped photos, and various posed photo opportunities. This one girl whom I won’t name even has a ‘Red Carpet’ pose where in every single picture of her on a night out she poses a particular way.
Ben, I think you can be sociable and extroverted but still feel lonely or isolated, or you can live a solitary existence, and be a ‘loner’ without feeling alone. Identifying yourself as an outsider at least recognizes a difference, an individuality – that you aren’t like everybody else. I think a surprising amount of people feel that way; often they will internalize these feelings.
I do believe we’re becoming disconnected socially as technology continues to develop. Communities are no longer as together as they once were. Talking to strangers isn’t just unacceptable if you’re a kid, but also now you’re an adult, because it’s weird. Everybody sits silently in the bus shelter or at the train station. I spent six hours waiting in an Airport last week and only spoke to a couple of shop assistants, the bloke who served me a cappuccino and the check-in staff. Yet I sat next to people, people who might have been interesting to talk to, but I didn’t make the effort to converse with them.
I’ve been volunteering for the last eighteen months with a Charity that supports emotionally vulnerable people, and it’s really taught me the value of speaking to strangers, of meeting new people. I’ve befriended a number of fellow volunteers who fall across a cross section of ages, genders and races. The older volunteers I would never have spoken to under any other circumstance, chances are we would have never crossed paths. It got me thinking, and I said to myself – let’s make more of an effort, see where striking up ‘random’ conversations can get you, and I must say it has made the last year or so infinitely more interesting than it might it been had I continued to keep myself to myself; which is why I’ve pondered about why I behaved like the ‘old’ me when I was at the Airport, why I buried my head in a book instead of chatting. It may have been pre-fight nerves or maybe I felt it socially inappropriate at that time to talk to someone who sat there looking equally pensive.
Ian: This is an interesting one for me, because for the most part I shun social media in all its forms. I don’t have a Facebook account, I’m not on Twitter and though I do technically have a blog, I only use it to post ‘work’ – never personal information. Similarly, my involvement in HST is exclusively behind the scenes and except for the people this email is going out to, I really don’t maintain contact with anyone I have met online.
I think for many people the internet allows them to relate to the world in the way they’d like to in ‘real life’. I, for example, am a solitary guy and I don’t yearn for much human interaction unless I can have an honest to goodness conversation. So in real life I talk to my friends and I am very quiet otherwise. Online I don’t send many emails, but when I do, they tend to be long winded (like this one). So I haven’t created a new identity for myself, my online self is really just an extension of my real world self. The only difference is that it’s much easier online, which I think is what the major attraction is for Ben.
One of the major themes of Ben’s work is second guessing himself. He is always soul searching, on some level, and deliberately inventing scenarios and situations that challenge himself – to examine his own motivations and reactions. I think this level of introversion would definitely make personal relationships difficult, and it’s something I can absolutely empathise with. The benefit of the internet, for guys like Ben and me, is that it keeps people at arm’s length, so to speak, and that distance can create a level of comfort which allows us to drop some of our defences.
I don’t necessarily think that is a bad omen, though. Even if some of Ben’s time is spent sending out dumb photos of himself and his cat, a lot of his time is spent building something – whether it is a website, or a friendship, or a working partnership for a new chapbook. A lot of people use the internet and social media just to trumpet their own narcissism, but those people are probably just as self-interested in real life too. I think sometimes it is too easy to dismiss anything that happens online as the equivalent of jerking off, rather than going out and fucking another human being. It’s not that simple, though, and as with most things in life you get out what you put in. I think even just this roundtable is an example that online correspondence or ‘networking’ isn’t necessarily frivolous. Or maybe I’m wrong, and we’re just jerking each other off, haha.
As a quick final word – I think the preoccupation with social media is just a fad and eventually there will be a backlash. People are already tired of others who are tied to their mobile phones and who update their Facebook page every two minutes. Once the fad passes there will probably be a sort of ‘throw out your TV’ style changing of the tides when social media is properly assimilated into everyday life, as just another thing.
RJW: Ian, it’s interesting that you think the preoccupation with Social Media is just a fad. I’m not so sure, especially given that technology is being specifically designed to incorporate Social Media. For example I saw an advert on television this evening for a Digital Camera with 3G capabilities that allows you to snap pics and then share them instantly online. Sharing seems important.
BJS: Hahaha I like this! A social tech media revolution. I don’t think your to far off the mark Ian but I also don’t doubt the general public’s need for something to occupy their time and satisfy their egos. Its that love hate thing, especially with Facebook; people find them self wasting HEAPS of time and complaining about other peoples mundane posting but would be watching television if they wernt in front of the PC.
It’s the lurkers that scare me the most. The voyeurs of the internet. They don’t say shit; but they have SEEN things.
I don’t know if it will ever happen but if it does im taking up a sport. Soccer or something. Fucking being a writer if no ones around to read it and god knows im not looking at a publishing hard cover deal any time in the future.
RJW: Though, to an extent, and this is quite worrying. The lurkers and voyeurs are encouraged. That’s the problem I have with Twitter, it seems particularly with the interaction between ‘the famous’ and ‘the fans’ that an awful lot of star fucking is going down. People seem to generally believe they are having meaningful interactions with those who they admire. I think you need a purpose to be on there, you need to promote and interact with your audience.
I’m quite new to Twitter, and am now using it to promote a few of my projects, but if I had nothing to promote then I would need to question the meaning of why I would need to be on there. Why for example does John Doe, a factory worker from Runcorn need to be on there. He isn’t promoting anything, he just wants to befriend talent show contestants, football players and soap stars. What good is it doing for Doe? Is it any more beneficial for him to waste his evening on Twitter, then going down the pub, or watching the Super Sunday double header on TV?
BJS: I think people feel the need to be involved in something. That pack mentaliy. After 20 seconds of posting a Kim Kardashian instagram photo will have 288 likes and at LEAST 100 comments calling her a “fat slut” or a “whore”. What the fuck is the need in that? Why bother? Because the majority of boring people are horribly bitter and self involved creatures. I think no matter what we do, promote or what we don’t say; we are still wasting time until something else comes along. Some kind of perpetual drama seeking. Maybe it’s the weather or im just being bleak but if social media in its majority is a reflection of the human condition I got a big fat feeling we are eternally fucked.
Ian: I know the feeling man. I try to stay optimistic about the whole thing though. The whole ‘comment’ culture on things like Youtube and Instagram is bound to invite the lowest common denominator crowd. They aren’t interested in actually saying anything, and no one else is interested in actually listening to them, but they have a platform online, unlike in real life, where they run the risk of being smacked in the mouth. Hell, they made a meme out of it: haters gonna hate.