perspective

I’m back! After the better part of a month away from Sphynx, I’ve returned with some much needed perspective.

My last post – looking at it retrospectively now – was a haunting way to leave the blog. I had essentially reached a point in the centre of a vacuum and simply needed to get myself out.

The problems all stemmed from trying to navigate cyberspace and feeling that I was using social media in a way that didn’t feel good. That term actually began to spark a low concentration of vomit, gurgling just below the surface. That’s how sick I was of talking about it. But that’s only because I resisted it. Something about it made me visualise an army that I was trying to fend off all by myself. Something about it felt oh so invasive and destructive and warrented my tactics of protection.

All I needed was a break. It’s been a break to gain perspective, as I say. It’s been a time to go about life in the way that feels best to me – most natural to me.

A most unfortunate side effect of using social media – at least to me – is the pressure placed on oneself to be the very best at whatever it is one is trying to achieve. It’s the constant comparisons we draw and the subsequent feeling of lack. At the touch of a button we can see into the lives (albeit the strategically captured lives) of people all around the world, seemingly living the dream in a way that we may not feel we are. This of course sparks feelings of sadness, moments of questioning self-worth and worst of all, a total lack of appreciation for what’s right in front of us. For me, it took looking at real life – not that behind a screen – to bask in the feeling of good fortune.

Make your life small again and your focus is then limited. You’re not seeing millions of peoples’ lives, all around the globe. You’re only seeing your own and the lives of the people you know in your physical existence. It’s a bit like choice: if it’s chocolate or vanilla, chances are you’ll make an instant decision. If there are 100 flavours to choose from, you’ll spend minutes agonising over which to select. Less background noise can make us focus on what’s real and what our choices are in the here and now. Overwhelming possibility doesn’t always feel good as it can emphasise how far away we are from what we might want. If we don’t have that dangled in front of us, our focus is brought back to reality.

Perspective. It’s so important to pause and get it back again. However you need to do it, make sure you make that move. It’s for your own success.


Photo via Unsplash

 

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Smartphone-addiction

I was late to the game with every social media platform. Except maybe for Xanga, back in the day. Who remembers that one? I got a smartphone after all of my friends, I still don’t really understand Tumblr and there’s something that feels inherently cringey about trying to promote myself across the platforms as a ‘brand’ of sorts.

These days, everybody is a brand. Everybody a CEO of their own life. We all show our best side. We tailor our pages to give our viewers, followers or friends a specific kind of perception of us. We display ourselves as we would like to be perceived. Is there anything inherently wrong with that? I mean, I guess not. You can be who you want to be, so long as you aren’t hurting others or yourself. Social bashing is lame, of course. Cyber-bullying is cruel. But perhaps what’s worse is the way that we’re corrupting ourselves through our use of them. Or maybe I should say misuse.

Below are the main ways I’ve felt social media to be detrimental to my own life. The platforms themselves are not toxic, but my nature as a human being is vulnerable to exploitation.

Addictive Perusal

This is perhaps the worst of them all. Having a smart-phone on me at all times and therefore access to the whole world at my fingertips constantly creates the perfect environment for a kind of passive, mindless scrolling that so many of us indulge in. If I’ve got time to kill, whilst of course my best intention would be to read or write or call a friend or people-watch, I find myself more often than not engaging in zombie mode. By this I mean checking all the platforms, even if I’ve just checked them moments prior as though not doing so will result in FOMO.

It’s utterly ridiculous. There’s so much irrelevant crap that circulates on all of these things for one, but secondly the good stuff isn’t going anywhere. So why the constant need to check? I put it down to a bad habit. It’s ‘dog chewing on furniture’ syndrome, as a good friend of mind puts it. The mind craves to be engaged, fed food for thought. The bad habit of constantly checking feeds that don’t really satisfy you result in nothing but a dark, vicious cycle of anxiety. It’s anxious tapping and it only gets worse the more you do it.

Skewing your Creativity

Each of us creative types has something unique to offer. But it’s so easy to cast your eye on the page of somebody who has massive interest and following to see that it’s really just like middle school all over again: certain things are popular, other things not so much. If the narcissist in us all wants to be adored, we can change ourselves to fit the bill. But what is that achieving? You’re then not being authentic.

With every gal a wanderlusting, yoga-obsessed, beach body, taking pictures of her legs as she lounges by the pool-side, taking staged photographs of her and her friends sipping out of coconuts, capturing a fully made-up face whilst lying in bed with the caption ‘woke up like this’, it’s no wonder that we all feel like the only way to get your name and material out there is to change what you’re all about all for the sake of being #popular.

I have found Instagram to be the worst for this. When I first started using the platform, I didn’t know that hashtags were a thing. I didn’t notice that successful pages had a similar theme. I simply captured my life and posted it as an easy-to-share album. A year or so later I noticed that it was popular to take pictures of your coffee, your face with a scrunched up ‘look how cute I am, even though I’m pulling a silly face’ expression, yoga poses and the sunset. Slowly these things have infiltrated my mind and I find myself taking pictures of them too. This makes me vomit slightly as I upload. But I do it anyway.

Do I actually enjoy capturing these things? Sometimes. Do they ignite the hot-spot of my brain that is inspired? No, of course they bloody don’t. So why am I doing it? Why I am clogging MY SPACE with stuff that isn’t really ME? Stuff that isn’t what I’m trying to create?

Fear of Speaking your Truth

This runs along the same thread as the aforementioned point. With the pressure to put forth your very best side, it’s easy to get into the habit of withholding. The other extreme is being that person (and we all know one) who uses Facebook to moan about their friendship issues with vague, attention-seeking comments. Don’t be that person either. But at the same time, don’t be somebody who withholds their truth because you’re worried about what the masses will think of you.

Whether it’s an interest, topic, creative expression or whatever else, if it feels innately you and you wish to share it with the world, don’t give a flying fuck what anyone else thinks and do it! There’s always at least a handful of people that it resonates with. And that – my friends – is how connection and thus friendship is made.

The Bedside Takeover

It’s like I blinked my eyes and became one of those God-awful people I swore I’d never be. Most nights, the last thing I do before I go to sleep is check my social media. And the first thing I do when I wake up? Lurch for my phone and repeat the process. This is an utterly shameful habit and I hate that I do it. Pre-smartphone, I would wake up with a regular alarm clock and then start my day with a coffee and the radio, perhaps doing some yoga before going anywhere near my computer. I’m a morning person so I’d still start up my laptop pretty early in the morning, but by the point I did I felt ready. I felt prepared.

Now, I am doing things back to front. I’m doing all the checking of stuff that I’m really not gaining anything from and then stumbling into the kitchen to make tea or coffee.

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I’m honestly ashamed to admit all of this. I feel embarassed that I’ve become one of these people and I also know that it has to stop. Writing will always come first for me – without a doubt – but I’m done trying to be the well-rounded social go-getter because it just isn’t me. I find it a burden, to tell the truth. And the process does not make me feel good.

 

Photo: Flickr

 

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Sat at the bar of my favourite tapas restaurant on Friday night, I was aware of the energy of the place and how influential it was to my evening. Deep in conversation with a friend I hadn’t seen in a while, I was subconsciously mulling over how nice it was to be somewhere surrounded by couples or small groups of people simply enjoying life’s greatest pleasures: food and friends. It made for a wonderful, relaxing evening where the pace need not go at any rate other than what we desired. There wasn’t a smart phone in sight.

I got to thinking about how crucial the atmosphere of our surroundings is and how deeply it affects our mood and interactions. If you’re planning on heading out to a bar or club, you want the place to be busy but not overcrowded and you certainly don’t want to turn up and be the only one there. Why is that? Chances are, you’re not going to interact with anyone other than the party you show up with, so why is it that we care so much about strangers and what they’re doing? Is it that we get social validation for our choice of activity that evening? If the place is busy, does that re-affirm for us that we chose wisely in our pursuit? Is it that our reason for these social outings is a longing to connect with others, even if we don’t actually end up talking to them?

It is fascinating how little a lot of us realise the importance of community. And no matter your level of introversion, you still – as a functioning human being – desire to be a part of something. So if that is the case and we are all deeply affected by what everyone else is doing, I wonder if that translates to a bigger scale; I’m talking globally here. Can we think of ourselves as one collective organism? Or are there simply too many of us to do so? If we can, what are the implications of this? That would mean that if one is in pain, all are in pain; one rejoicing, all rejoicing. If one location on Earth is in turmoil, we feel the ripples around the globe and if one is flourishing, we can experience waves of enlightenment.

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Because of technology, we have increased our connectedness, the speed at which information is shared and our ability to either conquer or divide. Unless you’ve thrown away your computer, phone, radio and television and refuse to leave the house, you’re going to pick up on what is happening around the world.

We’re incorporating more and more technology onto our person and it’s now a rarity to be off the grid completely and with this comes great fragility. The fragility is born from hyper-awareness and sensitivity. With information being bombarded at us almost constantly, there is a hell of a lot that we have to process. And whilst we try to do so in a logical manner that our brain deems most effective to our well-being and understanding, we simply aren’t robots and as such can’t keep up with the pace. This results in over-whelming confusion about our emotions, where we stand on these matters and our sense of power.

We’re playing catch-up right now – catching up with what is the all-consuming force known as ‘social media’. We can’t sit here and say that we should have been more prepared, because like so many things that get thrown at us on this planet, the advances often happen before we’re truly ready and instead we have to learn how to adapt. We are a fragile but capable people and must evolve to not only utilise this connectedness, but respect its faults and limitations. If we want to share all aspects of our lives with each other – emphasis on strangers here – we need to realise that we can’t overlook pain occurring elsewhere and expect our own health and happiness to be unaffected. News travels fast and we have entered a global community.

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Take a good look at that phone in your palm

With its buttons to platforms that fuel every qualm.

Infused with ego and editing and lies

It claims to connect us, so it may surprise

You to know that the loneliness epidemic is real

Because we’re all too busy filtering our best side with Nashville.

 

We sit face to face, with a cyber Pacific between us

We get together at events and in frenzy we tweet-rush

Press hold on life so you can tell the world first

That you only do good times; yeah, suppress the worst.

Don’t show us your pitfalls, bad days and flaws

Keep up with the unspoken social media laws.

 

It’s a blessing, a curse that we know it all in an instant

Goodbye to the library, life’s mysteries are distant.

Because ‘OK Google’ can provide it all,

But the greater you depend, the harder you fall.

When you don’t know how to get from A to B with the Sat Nav down,

When you can’t use a pay phone because the numbers aren’t in your crown.

 

So tell me, do all your pros outweigh the cons?

Are you happy, are you free, or do you long to press pause?

Take it back to the old days, when an unanswered phone meant you were out

Making memories, undisrupted by the ether of fear and doubt.

Am I seen? Am I heard? Does anyone give a shit?

We’re all trying to be celebrities but no one is any good at it.