During a conversation with my sister a few weeks ago, I found myself giving the “move it along” hand also known as the hurry-it-the-fuck-up finger swipe. She was taking longer than a status update to tell me about the dream she had the night before. I realized in that moment how much social media had impacted my ability to listen to all the words that surround words. I just want to extract the necessary sentences, edit in real time. I’ve always been a quick talker. I’ve always loved quick talkers. And I’ve always loved people who could say a lot in very little. So, I guess social media was created by someone like me for someone for me. But the problem is the quickness has created impatience, almost a social media anxiety. Even in a crowd, people prefer distance. Phones have become an invisible wall, the equivalent of reading a book on a plane. “Don’t approach me. I don’t want to talk. Leave me the fuck alone.” I do it myself. I admit it. I’m not always comfortable around people. In the 80’s I used my walkman to block out everything, to get lost in a place that felt more like home. Myself. When walkmans became just a reference to a decade, I carried a notebook around to write things or just pretend to write things. Whatever sufficed as a distraction. I used to be the girl who said…”Put the damn phone away!” Now, I use my android like a transplant. I listen to music,text, tweet, and do it all while surrounded by people. Not because I’m rude, but because sometimes the world is rude and I’ve reached my saturation point for the day. For people with social anxiety disorders, social media is perfect. It has made it possible to socialize by yourself…from inside of your house. And in some ways I guess that is better than being alone. It’s an instantly gratifying conversation. And by fuck, we love instant anything. Messages. Coffee. Erections. But the truth is that our minds know what is real and what isn’t. You can’t rewire human nature. And human nature craves social interaction… the kind with facial expressions, eye contact, and gesturing. Hard gesturing. The longer we use social media as a substitute, the more we begin to feel “pseudo social” which eventually leaves us wanting the organic shit. And after tasting a real conversation, social media just leaves you hungrier. But hot damn I love social media. I’m not going to deny it but it will never replace the voice of a person within arm’s reach. I don’t want it to. I like eye contact and expressive hands and real hugs not ((hugs)). And in reality, I love you is silent and so is hello. On a side note: I’ve never 😉 at anyone in real life.
About Ara Harris
Music junkie, Atari 2600 bringer backer, word maker upper, loves to photograph and write about suburban decay. Ara grew up on a corner lot in small town Ohio. She began escaping the micro minds of the Midwest by listening to music, watching b films, and touring the cities in her mind. She wrote poetry on the back of algebra tests and asked Lou Reed to take her to prom. Two decades later she self published a full collection of poetry that one reader described as “a Tom Verlaine riff in every synapse”. She believes that we all have a gift, we just have to find it.