So what do you buy for the person with everything? Computers and IPhones, tablets and cars, flats or houses? That is the question that has occurred to me in the past week; the modern middle class is one that has spawned a generation so used to having what it wants that any item outside of the immediate circle of fashion becomes little more than an outcast on the fringes.
If you have a phone then it needs to be Apple or at the very least a Samsung, a laptop is preferably a Mac, and if you have a console then aim for a PS3 or XBOX but avoid the Wii. These are some of the vague and often changing guidelines that govern the modern consumer psyche. We live in a throwaway culture that contributes to this feeling that we must conform and get a new version to fit in, rather than get a replacement laptop LCD Screen, just buy new. But the modern condition is one that runs further than that – it is not just what we buy and what we have, it is what we say and what we do – every word and every thought is an aim to say or do something important; we, as a generation, want to change the world without doing anything about it.
Maybe it’s just me, but when I Tweet I Tweet to be funny or to say something meaningful; for some reason, in my head, the idea of saying something that is thoughtless or without some sort of comic or deep driving force is tantamount to waste. In each post, in the confines of Twitters 140 character limit, I strive to say something that other people will see and that will make them laugh or think or appreciate just how witty and intelligent I am. Twitter then is, to me and I am sure many others, an opportunity to boost my modern ego; every bleep of my Iphone and notification from the chasms of Twitter history and in my head I have come that one step closer to online immortality – that Holy Grail of the digital age that always seem to reside just centimetres away from my grasp. It makes me wonder if those people who have followers in the thousands and millions, the ones with more followers than they could ever know, feel the same way; do Miley Cyrus or Justin Bieber feels the same glow of self-pride every time he or she gets an email from Twitter telling him or her that ‘YOUR NAME HERE’ has favourited or retweeted his or her thoughts?
…Do they mention to him that they know his dirty secret…
The same is true of Facebook and any other social media platform; how often do you trawl your timeline and see those videos of posing boys or girls who have become ‘Facebook Famous’ and wonder, like me, what being ‘Facebook Famous’ even means? Every few days I see a video posted by someone I went to school with; he has several thousand followers and every one of his videos or posts is followed by a string of likes comments and shares, and I am left wondering why he does it and what he gets out of it. I watched one of the videos and it turns out that he has changed his accent; I do not mean that it has changed, I mean that HE has changed it. This seems odd to me, but then perhaps his change is in some way a direct contributor to the followers that he has. So I wonder, does he speak like this to the people that he knows in real life? If they have him on Facebook then they, like me, have seen him talking in this, quite obviously, fake accent but do they comment? Do they mention to him that they know his dirty secret – that he is from the fens near Peterborough, not from the East end of London and so he should be speaking accordingly, or do they skate over it and let him go on with the facade that he presents to all of the followers that he has gathered? As I said before, his reason for doing this, for changing his accent and striving for ‘Facebook Fame’ is unclear to me; my only guess is that he, like me but on a larger scale, gets some sort of buzz out of the emails and notifications that his thoughts have been liked, that somewhere out there in this techno world there is another person that appreciates his words.
Of course we must remember the instances of social conscience that have been lifted high by the spreading of news on the social platforms: the adverts for charity and for aid, posts about missing children; in these we see human charity raised higher than a person could shout and in these there is some good. If a child is found because there mum circulated a post on Facebook or if a baby in Africa is saved by a few pounds sent by a Facebook user then surely there is some good in social media world? Of course there is the flip-side, the young people who kill themselves when their online presence becomes the recipient of hate, the people who get lost in the online world and become addicted to games and to things that are not a part of the real world. But does the good outweigh the bad? I cannot say for sure, but even with that question asked there is no real answer, for the world has become so that we could not get rid of the social medias that now dominate the internet – just as we could not get of the air we breathe or the water we drink – we could not get rid of our online links to society or hyper-reality.
…you can be connected to a whole network of people that you might never have met otherwise…
I have often heard the internet being referred to like an organism – it evolves and it changes and every one of its billions of users is another cell with the potential to mutate into something new and big and powerful. Even the feeblest person, the shyest member of the group, can grow in front of their computer screen; when they type on a keyboard they might be someone new – someone who isn’t constrained by their appearance or by the way they talk. Such is the power of the internet and the modern age – whether you Tweet or Facebook or YouTube or Game you can be connected to a whole network of people that you might never have met otherwise – and then you can be whatever you want to be: you have the power to display yourself as you really are or the power to display yourself as you really are not. The digital age has granted our generation the opportunities to craft our own persona, the ability to exist on a higher plane of hyper-reality wherein the rules of traditional popularity need no longer apply.
For some people the internet and the modern state of technology is an opportunity to hide behind a keyboard and craft yourself into something that you otherwise could not be; for some people it is an opportunity to promote and verify what you are in real life; and then for the few, for the minority of people, it is an opportunity to promote and drive real change and societal evolution – all the while in the comfort of your own room.