Human communication is an ever evolving animal. It changes as we change and adapts to our needs and our new means of telling our tales. We are always telling our stories, whatever they may be. In words, in songs, in image, or in word. We need to relay how we feel, what we see, and what the world around us looks like.
As we change, communication changes.
With every new technology we draw people from across the globe closer and closer to us and are able to find those connective tissues that unite us. For all the evil technology has been used for, if it has been used for anything good it’s that it has shown many of us that we are essentially all the same, looking for happiness, for love, and for security in an often chaotic and dangerous world.
With the evolution of communication though in some senses we are losing some of the skills we used to value that helped us to communicate effectively.
We are using the shorthand of GIFs, cartoons, memes, and photos to say what we want now. We don’t speak to one another, we speak with memes and gags and GIFs.
Just as when we text one another we use shorthand for brevity’s sake and to save time.
These may all be things that the young are on the bleeding edge of but it is something that is quickly adapted by everyone. Sure, the older generations may shake their fists at kids today but it’s the young people that are willing to embrace the newest things and can adapt their language and way they communicate more easily. It eventually flows to us all though.
But really, who was on MySpace first? Teens. Who was on Facebook first? College kids. Who was on TikTok and Instagram and everything else first? Kids. They are always looking for better ways to communicate.
If there’s an interesting thing it’s that the kids are the pioneers, the porno purveyors aren’t too far behind, and the scoundrels of the world are close behind them. The kids set the pace, the porn culture moves to adapt to the newest means to sell their wares, and the monsters of the world want to make sure they are there early so they can get entrenched and build their followings.
What worries me in all of this is that we’re losing one another as we get more and more brief and more and more guarded with what we say and how we say it.
We all cringed when we saw people airing their dirty laundry on social media – a relationship gone awry, a grudge made public, family drama brought to bear, and depression bled out before our eyes. It was hard because you never knew if you were voyeur or participant. You didn’t know if you should reach out or step back.
And then there were consequences.
People posted the ‘receipts’ of transgressions, real or imagined, and privacy was public. Everyone was learning everything about everyone else. Sounding boards became Wailing Walls.
Then there were those that had become so guarded in their lives that they were just voyeurs on these sites, not participating but watching from afar. Once in a while they’d reach out, but often they just sat back and watched. There was nothing deeply personal about what they posted and eventually it was an older, static photo, and a ringtone and nothing else.
They kept close to the people they cared to keep close to and the rest were just watching a mannequin in a store window, hoping for the window dressing to change from time to time.
We are so afraid of oversharing, of revealing ourselves, that we close off. We don’t want to look weak. We don’t want to have someone shame us for our openness. We don’t want to have it weaponized against us. When I had a DeadJournal I was way too revealing, treating it, as many of us did back then, as an online diary. All that did was serve as blood in the water for the cadre of bullies that followed me deep into adulthood.
This is who we are as a culture, we’re mean.
We’re often cruel.
It’s no wonder so many of us close off to the rest of the world.
What worries me though is that we’re losing our connections with one another. We are curating ourselves and losing reality.
We are taking cues from celebrities and want to show our best sides, and the best images, and our best selves.
We want to make ourselves seem beautiful and cool.
And none of that is wrong, but we’re putting a filter over our personalities.
Over who we are.
In boiling conversation down to shorthand, in presenting ourselves as selfies, or by representing ourselves by GIFs and memes we are losing what makes us who we are.
We are putting masks on and hiding our true selves.
I get it though, I do. We want a public persona that shows how great we are, the adventures we have, and the fun we have. There’s a point though that feels like we’re all just brand building, selling ourselves like products, and I wonder what the end goal is?
Do we all think we’ll become ‘influencers’?
Do we think we’ll become famous?
When I had an IG it was to sell books. Plain and simple. People don’t really care about me so I wanted to have another platform to try to sell books.
Once in a while I posted pics of my art, or my kiddo, but the thrust of the account was to sell, sell, sell.
And no one was buying, alas.
We’re all selling something, even if it’s just ourselves.
But we are guarding ourselves so much now, because we’re playing for such a large audience, real or perceived, that we’re just becoming fake smiles and forced fun.
The real people are lost.
Sure, someone knows who we are, I hope so at least, but not many, because as we live our best lives and our most genuine selves we have to make sure that our hair is right, our makeup is cute, that we look cool, that we look tough, and that nothing is showing.
Not even ourselves.
In our rush to talk I feel like we’ve just stopped listening to ourselves. We have become another salesperson selling another product, only this time, that product is us.
But who is really buying?
I write books. I sell books. Go BUY books!