Social Media Will Tear Us Apart:

 

How what brings us together, also pulls us apart.

Allow me to get on the cliché-bandwagon and say that I have a love-hate relationship with Social Media.

 

It is a great bridge for inspiration and contact, but its turbo ‘instantaneity’ gives me anxiety because, on an unconscious level, I am waiting for news, eager to be up to date, validating an idea of being essential.

 

Before confinement, I had deleted Instagram from my phone. It seemed to be the perfect door for distraction, where I was propelled by osmosis into a foreign world away from Concentration Land. I’d return later to my body, drowsy and unaware of where I’d gone to. I would delete the app from my phone and reinstall it as a way to retrain my brain without depriving myself from the occasional glimpse of faux connection.

When quarantine was announced in Barcelona, I rushed to redownload this app that allows you to be in every instant, except the present. This small polychromatic window would be my only connection to my people. Some of them have always been geographically far, scattered around the world, but now the possibility of our reunion shifted towards the realm of the impossible. During these uncertain times what I’m certain about is that I won’t be deleting this app again any time soon because it connects my anxiety with the anxiety of others, and with all the uncertainty and changes going on now in the world. We are together in the realization that we use our phones too much. We feel we are connected to others who we can’t see at the moment, but to what extent is this distance-defying connection tearing us apart from ourselves?

 

 

Social Media Will Tear Us Apart is a cheeky illustrated, handwritten book which I began creating before quarantine to sort out and better understand my feelings about the paradoxes of contemporary time management and to question with visual thinking our relationship with mobile technologies. My time spent indoors during isolation allowed me to finish this project, and I want to share it with you now because it is at this precise moment that we are using Social Media more than ever.

It is no secret that Social Media use has increased during times spent indoors (a.k.a. The Pandemic). Numbers vary per country, but we’re all reaching for our 3-Dimensional, hand-sized flat screens to compensate not being able to reach for a friend’s shoulder, for our mother’s cheek, for a stranger’s kiss at a nightclub. All of those social interactions, which are so vital for us Social Sapiens, have shifted and condensed into this portable connector of infinite vortexes. ‘YOUR DAILY SCREEN TIME AVERAGE HAS INCREASED’ (thank you, Apple, I KNOW).

Our home’s rectangular wooden/metallic door has been replaced by the black frame in our hands. It’s a connection door.

 

I wonder: had we experienced global confinement at a pre-social media time, would we have despaired or dived into other more proactive activities than infinite scrolling? I’m not judging these actions, they are normal, but not necessary. Many times I’m an active participant in this escapism game. And when I come back to myself, I’m not happy with the feeling of not being in my body- because when you’re deep in Social Media, you are somewhere else. How many minutes was I gone for? I prefer not to know, cause then I get FOMO of real life, and my creative brain suddenly becomes a wannabe mathematician and attempts to add up all the minutes- hours- I’ve spent there, and creates imaginary Excel charts of the projects I could’ve developed if I’d invested those minutes not ignoring me.

 

Being indoors has been tough for all of us, for some more than others. It is definitely a time to realize that there are things that are not working on so many levels. It is also a time for small victories, little steps, planting seeds. Now, after being home for so long and thinking I CAN’T LOOK AT A SCREEN ANYMORE, I had time to pause, to be kind with myself and take tech-detox days, because uncontrolled scrolling certainly was not helping my anxiety recovering persona. 

I’ve been reminiscing about the times in which we didn’t have these virtual hangouts. Us millennials grew into the internet without getting a manual for how to balance our online life with the ‘real’ one. My guess is following generations haven’t had a chance to distinguish between the two. Is it all a mesh? How is it for those of you who discovered it later on in life?

 

I remember coming home from school and logging into MSN Messenger in the afternoons- after some fights with my grandma where both the battlefield and the treasure was the telephone line. Would the sound of my dial-up internet win over her never-ending calls with friends? We were both trying to do the same, outsourcing the connection our species was driving us towards, when we could’ve gone for a IRL talk in the living room, making the most out of the sensorial benefits of face to face conversations. So, in a way, we were both running away from this fear of being alone. I tried to hop online to chat with friends- most of whom I’d just spent the whole day with at school. I was hoping for the novelty of a new notification. A possible message from my crush? The world seemed infinite, and so did the waiting.

Not many things have changed, on that level. This same longing still drives us forward. It’s scary and also beautiful. It allows me to meet amazing people, make friends in the most unexpected scenarios, and keep in touch. But time spent indoors has also reminded me that I am complete. That when I am with myself, I am whole. I can tend to my garden. I can pause. I can read, I can dive into other worlds such as books, movies, crafts, writing, without feeling like it is a bad thing to be alone. It helps me remember that loneliness does not mean alone.

From that calm headspace, I can hop onto social media to connect, truly and mindfully- not as an easy way out for avoidance.

 

I’m grateful for this 24h open linking because I can connect with my people, but I no longer wish to pull away from me or my feelings. I made Social Media Will Tear Us Apart in hopes of creating healthier online habits. To shine light on how contemporary life allows us to connect in different ways, and how we can be more mindful ‘bout our smartphones. See you on the Internet [double tap].

Photos by Eli Apezteguia