I go online. I scroll, refresh, scroll some more. (Not so much as to burn out my batteries, or to allow my phone to catalyse aches and pains in my hand, but enough to draw a distinction).
Images of lives flash across the screen. Objects, people, food, animals, vistas. Places far away – distant lands, rendered by people that seem as strangers. Those I know, living secret lives online, showing glimpses of their precisely tailored and staged cyber-persona. Acting as their own marketing advisor, their own PR manager, agent. Some masked with a pseudonym, the majority identifiable.
Marketing is always tricky. If one has an insight into the tactics, the veil can be lifted to reveal tinckering and mechanisms to drive perception.
Beneath the spin, under the carefully constructed syntax and camera angles, I see merely the representations of an ideal life; words and images showing us, the viewer, only what the account owner wishes us to see. Carefully selected extracts, opinions spinning webs from the social media spotlight; the selfie chosen from hundreds taken in one sitting (filtered, but only enough to still look natural). For what? Is life truly so meaningless that we cannot bare our true selves online as we might do offline?
A person overt, without the makeup; pores, wrinkles and smile lines on display. The bravery to not hide the chipped and cracked parts, the anger and sadness, the disappointment that life can bring. It all matters. It’s part of being human, the temporary existence, our emotions and senses, the inevitablity of aging.
And yet, the meaningless misrepresentation of our lives leaves us feeling isolated. Lonely as we experience the sensation we are not reaching our potential, and that, perhaps, if we had just done something differently, we too could be living the lives of those online. Beaches, perfect bodies, perfect hair, food so vibrant in colour it almost looks unnatural, love, friends. They are happy. Why aren’t we?