Monday, September 1, 2014

70s VS 10s, The

In several books and other references, I've read that the 1970s is retrospectively thought of as the 'Me' decade. In double-checking, it was writer Tom Wolfe who coined it. Then I ended up looking at each Wikipedia article on the 70s, 80s, 90s, 00s, and 10s, and now here I am, two hours later, finally completing this sentence.

It's something I've been comparing with the present. People forty years ago were apparently more self-interested, more focused on what their wants and needs were, instead of what I read as the more communal dynamic of the 60s. To me I just get an image in my head of groups of counter-cultures and free-thinking university students. I'm grossly uninformed on the subject, but the general idea remains - people were more in tune with themselves than others back then, and I'm thinking about it because of today's social culture.

My generation may as well be very similar: We post about everything on Facebook; we have phones that are also cameras and digital video cameras. We spend probably half of our time on the Internet posting stuff to Tumblr or Instagram or Twitter. Can you believe how unendingly narcissistic this sounds? What do people take the most pictures of? What's the most photographed subject? The photographer's face. The whole 'selfie' phenomenon that everyone's into right now. People enjoy taking pictures of themselves regardless of the time or occasion and posting it online somewhere. We enjoy talking about interests in a forum like Facebook or Twitter, or painting our emotions or feelings or focuses on Tumblr or our own blogs. I'm no different - while I don't take five selfies per day or use Instagram, I'm on all the rest, as well as Flickr (though I hardly ever post anything at all on there anymore). Everyone has a YouTube channel; everyone has a Facebook profile.

I once had a Facebook friend who posted pictures of every meal he ate that was not at home. He wasn't a gourmet critic or anything, because it went way further than that, to the point he posted every single location he travelled to, provided additional comments, posted every single random thought that went through his head, and every video he shot of every video game he played. If you hung out with him anywhere at any time, your location would be checked-in, your name tagged, and the whole thing further commented on by him; this included pictures of you and a picture of the location, food if applicable. He had over a thousand friends because if you said hello to him he would add you. My newsfeed became his whole world for me to watch/read/comment/be amazed by, if that was his intention.

Of course, I'm not saying every person born between say, 1986 and 1995 are like that. My point is that technology has changed and advanced to our complete advantage when it comes to self-promoting ourselves or talking about ourselves. This is the Me Decade times ten, where everyone posts selfie pictures and tweets links to their favourite artists and reblogs gifs of their favourite TV show on Tumblr. It's all about Me. And let's not forget the celebrities that only enhance this and ultimately further the world of fandom and gossip by Instagramming their choice of dress or having infantile fights with each other over Twitter.

There's a good aspect to this and a bad one. Information sharing and communication is never an issue. It's just that simple saying where too much of a good thing isn't necessarily good. What are you doing if you spend all your time updating statuses on your smartphone? Every time I go on my break at Wal-Mart, the young adults in the breakroom almost say nothing to each other. They stare at their smartphones. They're texting or online. Not that the room is completely devoid of speech or socializing; the older people will easily talk to each other, and maybe, maybe, a couple of guys or girls my age will have a conversation (with a few interruptions with their phones once or twice). Does everyone live online or in person? Are you so obsessed with how you look and how many views/favourites your selfie will get that all you virtually care about is you?

We have to learn to find a middle ground. No doubt a lot of us have. But the whole social construct, in my experience anyway, seems to have shifted from talking to staring at phones and posting online. In general, anyway. When I re-added all those friends on Facebook, my newsfeed didn't change too much. I didn't get a huge jump in added posts from people. Obviously they're living their lives in the real world, which is good. I hardly post more than once a day, maybe. I used to post like crazy, but I've managed to stop relying on it so much. I think some people have the unhealthy idea that Facebook gives them friends or a social life when it's just a painting of selfies and irrelevant information you'd rather be a part of or the source of instead of just watching. I'm thankfully not as personal on here as much anymore than I used to be. My posts here tend to be very music-focused, or observation-based such as this one. It wasn't always like that (2010 was a horrible year for that) but I've managed to alter the dynamic a little.

All of this is here to stay - all the information-sharing and social networking that makes Web 2.0 Web 2.0 - and it's neat to have and all. We just need to stop being so obsessed with ourselves or how we're perceived, stop focusing inwards and being so relentlessly narcissistic, and live in the real world again where everyone talked and had conversations and learned about someone over dinner or lunch or in class or at work rather than through a Facebook profile. All of that without being tagged in a location check-in or photographed or otherwise exposed via social media.

Middle ground, moderation, that's the key. Again, it's a general observation of what I see in today's social construct, not intended to be specific, and not everyone my age applies to this. And I'm not immune or perfect either. It's something to maybe try and work on in my opinion.

Red Cloud
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