WARNING: Timelines Aren’t Social and they Wont Fill Your Gravitas

Keeping my heart in tune as I make the changes forward.

It’s not easy to see the end goal into fruition when I’m holding on to a temporary high acquired from instant satisfaction based social media. It’s a drug, it’s a promise that keeps dragging me further and further into the depths of her as I sit expecting to find the answer to everything… somewhere other then here.

Ok, perhaps that’s a bit exaggerating, but I would like to spend some time thinking about how social media is a rather vague promise that keeps drawing us back. What is this promise? Is there a need that it’s satisfying, fulfilling my deep desires, or is it perhaps a big marketing ploy?

How often have I let the feeling of anxiety or restlessness lead me towards some form of social media, online? Why don’t I just go for a walk? Turn off my devices? Enjoy the sunset?

It’s not that connecting to others is a bad thing, it’s more that there is a limit to the amount that we can and should connect to others. Over connecting can lead us down a listless path, chit chat, with no time for making our legacy because we’re too busy dreaming in words.

I’m sure by now you’ve heard the saying: ‘you’re the sum of your five closest people.’ This effects us on quite a few levels. What we observe, what we see on a regular basis infiltrates our minds through our subconscious by familiarization. Familiarization automatically (that’s subconsciously) makes us more inclined to a certain thing, even if we don’t really like that thing in the first place. This means that if have two choices: one thing you don’t like but are familiar with, and another thing you’ve never had experience with, the chances are pretty high that you’ll choose the one you’re familiar with. We also become influenced by those around us. What they talk about we find ourselves forming opinions of, which means it’s on our minds. This is why we’re seeing entrepreneur hub spaces or incubators popping up; by proxy there is a hope that YOUR awesome successful skills will wear off on me, so let’s have a coffee. Chances are they will. We pick up habits by observation best. You dress smart? Ok, I’ll dress smart. You drink double shot espressos? Ok, I’ll try double shot espressos. You use a sleek Apple Mac Book, wear leather sole shoes, have a sick fade?

Is this the promise we’re getting from social media? Since I’m friends with a millionaire on Facebook, that must mean that soon I’ll be a millionaire? Or maybe he’ll become my patron, at the very least..

Let’s compare social media to tabloid newspapers. Have you ever tried to walk through the checkout line at the grocer and NOT look at the tabloids lining your isle? We’re sucked into this information rabbit hole because information is awesome! and we don’t want to miss a single thing. Take a second now to browse your own timeline and take notes on what type of things are being posted there…

  1. Guy talking about buying Real Estate in his SUV while fixing his hair.
  2. Facebook notice on how to spot fake news.
  3. A giant Punisher cake.. some kind of season wrap up.(I paused here and unfolled the fellow sharing the previous two posts mentioned above)
  4. A fashion designer (I think?) posting a photo with these hashtags: #krishnamehta designs #partedlips #campaign #royalblue #designer #mumbai #diaries #explore
  5. A photo with two hands forming a heart saying: “notice the people who make an effort to stay in your heart.”
  6. Skull wine stoppers for sale in a buy/sell group…

Scrolling our timelines has become a pastime akin to scrolling television channels, browsing the tabloids, or throwing rocks into the lake (yes, people really did these things before the internet existed). There is absolutely nothing in my timeline of any informative value, nothing about bombs going off in Middle East, nothing about North Korea getting hostile with nuclear weapons, nothing about Syria using chemical warfare on civilians. I continued to scroll on my Facebook timeline and the only thing of any substance was 5. above. Really?

The question is constantly proposed to me: “What makes somebody online on the other side of the world that much better then somebody you’re sitting next to?” Truth be told, if a timeline is all anybody sees of the online world, I can completely agree with this.

But that’s not how I use online, and I hope you don’t either. There are more effective ways to connect with others online. Perhaps the rise of internet forums will come again, or chat rooms. How many times have I sat silently at a café on my device and chatted with a friend on some instant messenger, completely silent and nearly oblivious to those around me? With these social locations getting wired for our want (more on needs in a bit) of connectedness, are we actually losing our connectedness? One would think that since amazon.com is rapidly snuffing out the bazaars of the world (traditional congregation places for commerce and news from afar), these last remaining hangouts (cafés) would be sought out for people to actually socialize in person, rather then just look cool while connecting with humans on the other end of the wires through a little screen. I just watched this video on Vimeo called Escape from Park City where a fellow shows us what it’s really like at Sundance Film Festival. It’s 5 minutes and he was hired by Vimeo to do it. He definitely paints a very sad and pathetic picture of the whole scene, outlining the extent some people go to just to get a chance at seeing a movie star, being close to them. At one point, he interviews a guy who says (and I’ll paraphrase): ‘I used to try and submit videos to Sundance but after getting rejected so many times, I felt it was better worth my time to just come here and try and see the stars and get my films seen elsewhere online.’ The interviewee then has to pause the interview because a star is walking by who he fanboys over and takes a lame selfie while the star doesn’t even stop to smile for the photograph.

“We are doing things to be recognized, rather than recognizing why we are doing things. More concerned with who sees, and how they see us – we begin to fixate on something not relative to adventure at all – ourselves.” ~ Christian Watson of 1924us

200 years ago, it was God who saw the things we did. The Romans had Gravitas. Gravitas has no direct translation, but it can be understood as a combination of weight, seriousness, dignity, and importance.

It’s clear to see that getting a selfie with a movie star lacks gravitas. In fact, it’s fairly safe to say that almost anything on social media lacks gravitas. If you’re like me – which I can safely assume since you’re reading this – I’m sure you’ve been frequently frustrated at the lack of attention serious and important matters receive on social media. Selfies with movie stars get more attention by peers then an article on climate change or plastic pollution. In fact, most conversations with humans may also fall into this unfortunate category, too.

Needs vs. Wants

A want is an urge or craving that you feel needs to be satisfied, whereas a need is a quantifiable result you’re looking to achieve (this is a very general description, Highbrow has a great lesson on Needs I’d suggest). Sure, there are some people on social media posting onto timelines that are looking to achieve a need – these are the people selling products or services with hopes you’ll pick up on them. But the vast majority of users, and even those of us selling things sometimes, spend a lot of our time just browsing and chatting.

I was having a chat with a fellow who’s very aggressive at building pages etc. on Facebook and he justified his usage by long term thinking. Build your network, build your friends, surely that’ll pay off one day, right?

Has anybody ever told you to not be so serious? It’s rare to find somebody to have a conversation about destruction of old growth forests, carbon dioxide emissions, consumption associated with big business. Even further, very few people can have this conversation about how their own habits effect these same things and not be hypocritical on some points. Nearly everybody dreams of some far off exotic location to visit, but do we also measure the gasoline it takes to get us there? We all like to save the environment, but do we think about the things we’re consuming that come directly from the environment and straight into a garbage dump? Sure, our seriousness in the moment may be sincere, but the weight we place on the importance of the matter soon floats off like a feather in the wind.

Gravitas. Where has our dignity and weight to the decisions we make gone?

The importance of our decisions have been drugged. The feeling of helplessness is teetering on the verge of impossible. The cause? Hype. Pop. Timelines. Timelines bury anything of importance so quickly and replace it with popular hype. Those who controls the most accounts wins the day, leaving us, the users, waiting for something to happen, not making something happen. This means we are satisfying wants, not needs. We want to consume because it kind of feels good. The hard work to write a book, build a house, grow a plant, walk to school, etc. is hard work! The importance of these things runs very deep in the foundation of our own humanness, yet so quickly overlooked. This, I am certain, can be changed with consciousness.

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