A time when I wore ribbons in my hair and had braces on my teeth, ‘smart’ people used to be the ones who’d always have their noses stuck in some book. Stereotypically the studious types. Nerds they were called. These days it’s rather your smartphone that’ll give you a smart status. The later version you carry, the smarter you are. Pull out a basic mobile in public and you’ll be pushed down the social hierarchy so fast that any bit of smartness you might’ve had left, will be sucked out on your way down! I’ve been kicking dirt in the lower ranks for some time now. Since my BB died last year, I am sitting here and observing all that is happening in the smart ranks above.
Thin, sleek, shinny-paneled like good PR agents, our smart phones give us instant access to all social media apps to portray whatever image we want of ourselves. Unlike back in high school, what you appeared like…that’s what you were. It didn’t matter if you had a killer voice and belted out hits in your bedroom pretending the Mortein can was your mic, if you wore specs and had liked your books, you were a nerd. Period. So in way, we do have the social media network to be thankful of. It finally gave us the platform to convey what we really are all about. However instead of allowing this wonderful evolution of human interaction and celebrating the power it brings to us as individuals, we are now hiding from it. Our smart phones have so fluidly seeped into the intimate corners of our existence that most of us are now spending our days, hiding, wiping and deleting ourselves virtually.
Couple of months ago, I was in Sydney. Met a long-time friend over coffee and despite only a few meet ups over the years, we still get along like a house on fire. Coffee quickly escalated into something stronger and just like that it turned out to be one of the best nights in a while. Next day, I sat moaning over my bowl of dhal (best hangover cure) while my cousin went through the past nights photos posting them up to show the concerned public what a wonderful time we had had! It’s fine, we all want happy social photos of us occasionally making the circuits. I had such an awesome time that wrote a long happy tribute status tagging my friend, wishing us many more of years virility to continue our merry making etc….what happened next is not what I expected. My friend went ahead to untag herself, hide all the photos and generally to disassociate herself from that night. Now it may be her personal thing but that’s still going to hurt. I mean I am quite a respectable young woman. A bit loud after 4 down but why would you want to hide having a good time with me?
Recently I assisted a sibling whose a photographer with one of her photo shoots. The model was a mutual acquaintance of ours who had happily agreed to the concept and shoot. The location was in whoop whoop somewhere and in between the equipment, props, makeup and what not other nonsense that goes in a photo shoot, it took us almost half a day to shoot and three half days in preparation for it. That all became secondary as final editing of the photos happened because it just turned out so good. I didn’t do much except be a spot boy but the personal satisfaction of being connected to good work is gratifying. Two days after the photos were published, the model calls my sibling requesting her to remove her pictures because her personal life was in ‘tatters’. Her boyfriend and his family didn’t like the photos.
Thing is, I’m confused. I am not sure who these young women really are. I thought I knew my friend. But who really is she? The person who went out with me that night having a ball or the clean-chit girl she wants to appear on her social network? For whatever reason she spent a considerable amount of time ‘hiding’ her night out. Why hide it from people who supposedly love you. Doesn’t loving you include accepting you for who you are? In a way she ended up failing all of us that night. Me her friend, for not respecting me enough. Her partner (I suppose), for not trusting him enough. Her family, by pretending to be someone she wasn’t.
As for our model acquaintance, I cannot help but feel utmost regret for her. Here is a young female who clearly took a personal decision to do something to make herself happy and from what I could see, she thoroughly enjoyed herself that morning. Yet she compromised her identity for a mere boyfriend who couldn’t accept her appearing on social networks as to who she really was.
And so I’m baffled. At these facades, pinups, illusions, layers of ourselves that we have managed to put on the social networks. It feels that instead of discovering our true selves, we’ve become entangled in the false webs we’ve weaved. Instead of fighting for our identity and individualism, we are busy maintaing false facades of how others expect us to behave. Instead of us celebrating the very things we love doing, we are spending vast amounts of energy pretending otherwise. Are we really being smart? Your smart phone’s not all that bright if it’s not syncing who you are really are in person and the virtual you on your social apps.
I write about finding happiness all the time on this blog. That one step towards being happy is owning up. Owning up to who you really are. By all means channel your inner Kim Kardashian or Bear Grylls on your timelines. I know I do my Liz Gilbert-ing! But don’t lead a double life. You could waste your entire life between hiding things you do and pretending things you don’t. At the end of the day, it’s not between your 708 followers on instagram or your family, it’s between you and the person staring back at you when you look in the mirror. Be you. Choose to be you.
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