It’s interesting when life imitates art. We see it in so many things and I have been seeing it lately.
As a part of my faith journey, I choose to fast from something twice a year to regain focus. This is not a way to earn salvation or otherwise curry favor, it is an effort to refocus myself, to give up things that are fine to focus on things that are better. The choice that I made was to give up social media for a three week period. Having watched and worked in social media off an on over the years, I know what kind of rabbit hole it can become. I was not prepared to see what it had done to me.
For many friends, when they give up social media, they take it completely off of their phone. I chose not to, not because I am weak, but because originally I figured that I would be downloading them again at some point, so why put forth the effort? What that move has illustrated for me is the strange habit I had developed over the course of time. That habit was to open social media absently when I felt like I had a moment. As I have worked on this, I am seeing that I absently reach for this on a regular basis. Time and again, I am catching myself opening up these apps and stopping myself again and again.
This comes to my original thought of life imitating art. As I look around and listen to the story of others, I am hearing the same refrain. People are wasting time on social media in increasing quantity. Two hours of looking at your feed is not out of the question. As I have experienced this absence in my life, I have been looking for what needs to replace this and the human urge has been tough to fight. Humanly, I want to have something that makes me feel the same way that social media makes me feel. As I have considered what that feeling is, I have come to the conclusion that it can be described by a song title, “Comfortably Numb.”
Pink Floyd put together this song on their album, The Wall, and while it was inspired by the writer receiving a tranquilizer shot before a concert, it illustrates something that society has been embracing over the years. As the lyrics say “You are only coming through in waves. Your lips move, but I can’t hear what you’re saying.” As a society, we are so focused on this numb comfort that we seek in social media, video games and the like, that we are not focused on those around us. Many times in my own family, we have found ourselves sitting around a table or in a room, each focused on our own phone and our own little created world. I have been forced to confront an ugly truth, asking myself, “when was the last time we had a conversation or created a memory?”
I am not saying that social media, video games or anything else are an evil that we need to give up entirely. What I am saying is that we need to watch what we are doing. We are giving up our real lives for the fake one we find online. At what point will we wake up and realize that we have no real life and everything we live for is a vapor online that is here today and gone tomorrow?
My work on this continues. I will likely be back on social media, but I must make an effort to make it something better. Real life must take the point. Social media needs to be a reflection of my real life and not the life itself. Anything else is an addiction to something that gives us nothing but a numbness that will only be fed by more and more of the nothing that we are embracing. Personally, I would rather live life, REAL life.