The Week of October 15th - October 21st

 

Words according to Dakota, SHE II, and Raven Vanguard’s third member, also known as Sloth

Preface: I am not a writer (well, not in the author sense of the word anyway). I am a thinker, an observer, a creator, but not a “writer.” Sometimes, I find that I have a point to make, and I allow my words to spill out onto paper, or in this case, a digital form of writing. However, I have never found my personal expression to be eloquent, well-worded or even grammatically correct. Most times, it is just messy, emotional, and passionate word-vomit that emerges at random, or regrettable substance-altered hours.

Of course, I am willing to write for our Weekly Once-over, not just because it is a part of my job, but also due to recent events in my personal life. I have found myself in a state of reflection, trying to balance out the energy in my realm and reduce the amount of negativity influencing my emotional state of being. That said, there is one single yet overwhelming influencer that I cannot seem to make up my mind about.

Social Media. Two words that when put together, with little to no context, seem rather harmless if not pleasant. Encouraging communication, entertainment, making friends, and connecting with others. What could possibly be the downside to such positive intentions? On the one hand, I have made many new friends by being on Instagram. People I would never have met if I didn’t have the app, as I would never have seen their unique visual perspective on life from thousands of miles away. Some may think that is overstepping boundaries and simplicity; nonetheless, I have found I am closer with some of these individuals than people I have been physically surrounded by my entire life. Still sounds lovely right?

Ego and virtual social structures are the downsides to social media, specifically Instagram. We filter and edit our lives to show people only what we choose to show them and hide our true selves behind the mask of the cyber realm. Sure, some of us are more gritty and realistic on Instagram, and some of us just have aesthetically pleasing accounts. Despite just simply trying to exist online, this platform has brought something new into our lives. Virtual social structure with financial backing.

Between bloggers, influencers, and the “Insta-famous,” we have placed a monetary value on popularity. This commonly causes swollen egos; suddenly, people with thousands of followers are now somewhat viewed as better than those with less. Not replying to messages, giving rude responses, and talking down to others, I feel as though it is a high school hallway, in between classes, all over again. This can be especially sad from the artistic and designer point of view. That is, the value being placed on how many followers one has, over creativity, ingenuity, and skill. I have seen this first-hand. Some of the most skilled people I have ever known, fantastic photographers, painters, graphic designers, have been devalued and missed out on opportunities based purely on their following (or, the perceived lack of it). It is a shame that reality and portfolio are sometimes not enough. Many of us find ourselves in this conundrum, trying to prove our worth by gaining followers, even when we know that isn’t what life is about.

The fact still remains that the virtual aspect of the platform makes for a totally new version of social interaction, outside of the egotism on virtual display. But, are we missing out on human connection? Have you ever met or seen one of your followers from Instagram in public, recognizing them only from the mirror selfies they’ve taken and posted to their stories? That is only sometimes followed by a “Hello!” and talking face to face. Sometimes you just look away and down at the floor, awkward. Now compare that to seeing someone you actually know, even just as acquaintances, you’ll most likely wave, say hello, or have a full conversation. It’s different, not necessarily all bad, but different.

All of this being said, I still cannot make up my mind. The app has provided community, widespread connection, and potential to share cultural awareness, thought-evoking ideas, art, design, and all sorts of visual media in an easier way. And the option to learn about diversity in gender, race, and religion. Seeing actual people in practice every day from across the world. Maybe social media is just merely a reflection of the chaotic nature of humanity. Some days I just feel like the “Freaky Student” in the movie Accepted, when he screams, “ IS THIS A TEST? ” Who fucking knows.