Don’t get me wrong, I love the Internet and I love most of the social media platforms. I love spending time on them sharing what I do professionally and personally.
While the feeling of being jaded and cynical has been pervasive the last few months, only recently have I started evaluating and looking at possible reasons.
In general, I believe most of us spend our lives as moments of reaction based on something that happens externally. We see something and we react to it either vocally or by doing something tangible. Regardless, it affects us mentally. No matter the scale of the external stimulus, it leaves an impression on our brain. When that stimulus is larger than normal, the impression it leaves on our brain also alters the life we lead.
The Internet amplifies all of the above. Not only do smaller, seemingly inconsequential status updates from our network make us think and react, they also leave an impression. That impression could either make us more reactive, when we want to be more engaged and believe it affects our life directly; or it could make us passive, when we do not want to be engaged and would rather be a spectator than an involved commentator.
In all this, being proactive is all but disappearing.
I question myself, “What was the last thing I did of my own volition, based on internal motivation, that was not driven by something I saw or read online?”
Most status updates I write on Twitter are in reaction to someone else’s Twitter updates, whether they are sharing a news story or writing about their own lives. Their story makes me think of my story and in some cases makes me want to share as well.
I don’t look at other photographers’ portfolios anymore but sometimes a link will show up on social media and I will follow it. Sometimes the work is inspiring enough to have me leave a comment about it or Re-Tweet the link. Coming across work that motivates me to get out of my seat and away from the front of the laptop screen is rare.
There are projects and things I would like to do and these stem from ideas I’ve had while walking, in the shower or day dreaming. Proactive ideas. But I spend so much time reacting to others and their stories that sometimes I wonder if I am creating my own story at all.
I want to be more proactive and I will be putting in more effort to consciously attempt things that I want to do because I want to do them and not because it is cool to be “seen” doing those things. Being proactive is a lot of work, which is why it is easy to slip into lassitude, especially when the momentum of a social media stream leads us to believe in progress, when it is actually only “coasting”.
It is difficult to be a spectator and simply watch as social media streams roll by.
The human need to be accepted and to be part of a group is so strong that sometimes I participate only because I worry I might be forgotten sooner than my ego is prepared for.
I wish there was Drainex for the brain, I’d pour it in each week.