In the darkness, there is a light, but not the light of enlightenment or self-realization– but the illumination of the screens we allow to hold our very fates. We’re a permanently lit, constantly over stimulated, and always connected without any connection culture. My existence as part of the generation Y party is comparable to that of a lab rat. I’m consuming aimlessly the product put in front of me with no information on the outcome–hoping, praying, that I’m the one who makes it through and solidifies this life for my children. But as for now, I’m nothing more than a test subject.
My name is Zane and I’m addicted to technology–and I’m one of the virtuous ones. They say you’re an alcoholic if you can’t get through the day without thinking about having a drink, I can’t get through the day without deeply pondering the world of the Internet–which leads me to believe I just may have a problem. Now, if I were the worst of this sweeping syndrome I would say we had faith, but here is where it gets scary, I’m far better off than most people I know.
I’m on Facebook, Instagram and email; I own an iPhone 4s, one computer, and a TV (no cable). My Internet behavior is mostly career centered, I tend to only post if I’ve made something and I want people to see it. I also use technology to communicate with my parents and friends (parents). I am not on Snapchat, Twitter, dating apps, Vine, Pinterest, Tumblr, etc. I’ve also yet to explore the dark underbelly of the web–which is so vastly dark, I’m honestly not sure if I can even give an example. But let’s face it; if you’re reading this, you probably know.
My usage of technology is actually so light, that in the past I’ve been commended by elders and peers for my impressive resistance and will. And yet, I’m so immersed in this world of bright lights and dings that it’s spun me into a constant state of anxiety, and I’m not the only one.
Social media sites like Facebook are designed to toy with our self worth. Remember, Facebook originated as basically a Hot or Not list. If you type into Google right now the words “comparing yourself to others,” the first thing that comes up next is “on social media.” There are tons of articles on this–because it’s true, everyone does it. Which means everyone feels awful, basically all the time, or to be factual about three plus hours a day, (which is how much time the average American 18-64 spends on social media everyday).
There are three types of destruction done to your self-esteem when you use social media. The first is the “Why doesn’t anybody care?” complex. This consists of posting something you feel very strongly about, be it a picture of yourself (I refuse to use the word selfie), a piece of art, a piece of writing, a cry for help, or the announcement of the birth of your first child. Now the way this works is, when you post, nobody gives an ounce of a shit and as a result you are utterly disappointed and completely humiliated. Side effects include but are not limited to: suicidal thoughts, an existential crisis, or, and this one is daunting, a deep pondering of possibly deleting your account.
The second type is the “Why am I not (insert name here)?” condition. With this one, instead of doing the posting yourself, you find yourself looking at other people’s posts– which by definition are always much better received than yours. “Katelyn is vacationing in Turks and Caicos!” You’re unemployed and currently picking the lint out of your belly button. “Jennifer changed her profile picture!” (Everyone loves it) And you’re still picking the lint out of your belly button. “Adam is engaged to Samantha!” Nobody has ever loved you. …And you’re still picking the lint out of your belly button… Side effects of this one are similar to the first, but this time you can also add sporadic panic attacks and a “lingering ambiguous illness” to the list.
The third kind is the “Where is my phone, where is my phone, what is this feeling of abandonment and loneliness, why is life so fleeting, where is my phone?” disorder. This one is very specific to people who have such a severe unabashed addiction that they have absolutely no idea there is a world beyond a screen. These people are so unapologetically engrossed in technology and social media that one moment without it makes them realize they are nothing more than a meaningless spec floating through space on a big blue marble. Side effects of this include: signing up for LinkedIn or MySpace, “I probably need that, right?!” No, you really don’t.
The biggest problem here is that technology has become such a large part of the way we live in America that it has become virtually impossible to live without it. If I were to get rid of every form of technology I use today; my Mother would think I was dead, I’d lose my job, and nobody would ever read this, I’d just be typing into a void. (Yes, that is similar to what I do already.)
Every revolution starts with one. Now of course I don’t expect to wake up to see our entire world reverted back to the 1700s but it wouldn’t be so bad if we tried to cut back a little. If we tried to acknowledge that the two year old on the iPad is mortifying and the pain in your chest after checking Instagram isn’t “a part of life.” It doesn’t have to be this way! We can make change one person at a time, one illuminating light at a time.
So tell your friends and share this, and let me be the syndrome two that makes you feel bad about yourself tomorrow, I promise it’s for the greater good.