As a neglected Gen-Xer, it’s safe to assume that social media was an unreal phenomenon, that couldn’t be realized until decades later. Of course there’s the casual bitterness of how easy it is for Millennials to DM links to online bios containing the goods that will get them hired; when back in the day, it was the tedious curation of query letters that editors didn’t read, and if they did, the generic rejection letters took months to arrive.
There is no doubt that social media was created to transform our existence from #basic to #best with non-stop clicks that lead to likes, strategic reposts, and the ambitious threads of wisdom that make or break reputations depending on who you’re “canceling” or traitorously “not canceling.”
The truth is that you don’t know who you really are until the chaotic landscape of debilitating dysfunction becomes a mandatory haven — that hosts a symphony of defective personalities — challenging aptitude and the level of madness that you’re willing to expel in order to avoid the deactivation of status.
Most of us are celebrating a decade of habitual tweeting, and while it’s hard to believe that it’s been that long, it’s even scarier to observe how much things have changed for the worse.
At first, it was magical to have access to the tools of engagement that made the difficulties of not so long ago disappear without a trace. There was also the seductive entrapment that stems from being human enough to inhale the aura of falseness, that the dubious geniuses from Silicon Valley were banking on, without serious consideration for just how dangerously skilled users will be at tearing each other alive with ravenous violence.
When Mark Zuckerberg and his equally guilty counterpart, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, pathetically make the case about the naivety behind their creations, and how still-pending grievances assigned to portals that purposely lack sturdy shelter for these rainy days was an innocent oversight — the only logical reaction is to reject the bullshit.
Social media was meant to do exactly what it’s doing now.
The only shocker may be how well the plan has worked so far, when you consider how seamlessly we fell into the roles that we chose to play, with varied interpretations, but the goals don’t drastically differ.
From the moment you’re born, being validated is the method of approval that is desired and appreciated. You could be sitting on the train, heading home after a long day of scheduling and proofreading, and a tiny face with big eyes stares you into submission, and when you smile back, the cute little recipient expresses the joy of being noticed.
Those tendencies don’t fade away with maturity, and in fact we get even more demanding about having our feelings, accomplishments and declarations affirmed by the ones who matter. And then as we start spending more time with strangers of the day and night; we turn to their profiles for the comfort of our tweets unexpectedly “blowing up,” with the shoutout from verified personalities, who love how we respond to the trends of the moment.
Our activeness on the platforms that woo us can bestow our #bestlives, which is the ultimate goal in this climate of compulsory excellence that relies on the system of how many people buy what you’re selling.
For me, social media has gifted the ability to be my own agent without shelling out fees for representation. As a writer, the focus has always been about the quality of work, and not the currency attached to the shares and claps, that gauge the relevancy of what you dutifully conceived.
And while the ability to turn your words into a potential goldmine definitely empowers in that reassuring way we all aim for, there’s also the caveat of the unhealthy dependency on the drug of inauthenticity, that strips you of the organic fibers that kept you intact for self-recognizability.
You thought you possessed the discipline to not be swayed by the chants and applause of the crowd, that only rewards the stuff that you’ve grown tired of writing about. This forces you to either continue to deliver the themes that fly off the shelves, based on the bloodiness of our streets, or to back away from the fear of losing endorsements, by setting up reminders of how your love for the craft came to be — and why it’s necessary to keep it fresh and personal.
But those problems are child’s play compared to the life-threatening avenues that risk takers with substantial influence, have to navigate in order to retain mind-blowing numbers, that calculate into epic brand partnerships, and the incentive to make mincemeat out of the ordinariness of #bestlives by graduating to #lifeelevated.
Our #lifegoals have shifted with the climatic onset of great expectations, and how we can’t ever be satisfied with the #buzzkill of not measuring up to the mightiness of influencers, who can coin viral hashtags on cue, and travel to four countries in one week — all expenses paid.
Influencers on Twitter, garner power from the verification of a symbol that I applied for twice — out of curiosity, but thankfully didn’t make the cut. The blue check definitely sets you apart from regular folks like me, but that distinction can also pose a headache if you happen to drop the ball by exposing the vulnerability of humanness.
Your worshippers are worshipping you for a reason, and they expect their individual gods to flawlessly maintain their end of the bargain. They are convinced they know you inside and out, despite not having met you in person or spent quality time getting to know what makes you tick.
The art of engagement has convinced us of how imperfection is the unfavorable characteristic, that’s punishable by abrupt “cancellations” and blistering threads of award-winning memes to celebrate the dishonor of your perishable disposition, that could’ve been avoided if you had only shunned the sin of individualism.
When influencers who’ve maximized their celebrity with the “likes” of obsessive users, who stalk out of boredom and “like” practically everything you do without knowing why — perform deeds that get them roasted — the season of shaming can be relentlessly brutal.
The treatment will make you wish you could turn back the hands of time, and return to the phase when misunderstandings had to be hashed out in person, and with the dignity of respectfully disagreeing like the adults we were.
But again, this specific batch of influencers don’t have to weather the pressures of ceremoniously staging death-defying scenarios, in the name of #adventurous fun, that’s supposed to keep fans on the edge of their seats with awe and anticipation, while their gods demonstrate their god-like attributes with the ease that no human being can muster without episodes of blunder.
Just the other day, during the regular bouts of insomnia, that’s wrecking my eyes and soul with the frequent examination of traffic reports about everything that should keep you up at night — there was the chilling headline about the “Bikini Hiker” who became famous for posing on mountaintops — donning bikinis.
The only time I’m privy to these influential Instagrammers, who amass a following that surpasses the population of a small town, based on their documented collage of thrill-seeking events, is after they’ve perished in action.
Gigi Wu, was an Instagram star from Taiwan, who died at the age of 36, after her luck ran out, when her quest to live up to the standards of #lifeelevated — failed her. On her final journey to the top, she slipped and fell into a ravine and froze to death while waiting in vain for the assistance that arrived too late — due to bad weather conditions.
In the same article about Wu’s final and fateful mountain climb, there was the insertion of another #adventure influencer, who met his end, while performing a daring stunt while shooting a music video shoot in British Columbia.
Jon James, was known to his legion of followers as the “stunt rapper” who entertainingly combined his love for music and stunts by producing eye-popping videos, that heightened his rep of invincibility, which is necessary if you want to surpass #basic expectations of modest #influencers.
Things went awry when the “stunt rapper” slid off the wing of a Cessna plane while shooting the video and fell to his death. Apparently he had “trained intensively” for this highly-risky move, that would ordinarily require a well-prepared stuntman or stuntwoman with enough experience and life-saving instincts to successfully maneuver.
But we’ve been programmed to obey the requirements of pushing past our assigned capabilities in order to provide the stunning footage and far out images, that enhance our viability beyond reason, and secure the durability of far-reaching narratives.
Without that we become the unsalable version of ourselves — and that could get us #cancelled.
Nobody wants to be tossed in the dustbin of expendables, after reaching past the limits of the sky without stumbling.
The contenders who courageously embrace the superhero responsibilities of the #adventureinfluencer, by revitalizing the edginess of thrill-seeking with budgetary allotments, that promise the persistently raised bar — are blissfully in denial about the strong possibility of getting killed
Or maybe, we’ve been feted with the all the reasons why succumbing to the lackluster lifestyle of the 9 to 5 beat with the occasional #vacays that only reach #vacaygoals when you collect enough “likes” — once in a blue moon — shamefully #cancels your paltry efforts of #livingyourbestlife.
There’s no excuse for lazily accepting the outdated illustration of the “American Dream” when you can ambitiously evolve into an overnight superstar, who doesn’t have to wait to be discovered by model scouts or talent seekers, when you’re savvy enough to package that winning persona.
As your numbers skyrocket, so does your thirst for more attention, and this can deceive you into believing that boarding a small plane with your privileged posse, that’s being commanded by a fellow influencer, who is a pretend pilot — is a #dope idea — until the crash and burn description becomes a reality.
You could also get carried away by the scenic beauty of a tourist hotspot, and lose your balance while composing the #selfieoftheyear with your spouse, and unexpectedly plummet to your death, after miscalculating how dangerously close you and yours were to the edge of the cliff.
A decade ago, as we were immersed in figuring out the basic mechanics of Twitter, the toxic excitement of being able to post real-time evidence of our preferred indulgence was the dream come true that could instantly make us the envy of less-fortunate gawkers.
And soon enough, engagers were getting killed, minutes after posting images of photogenic locations, because tweeting while driving can end in your jeep veering off the Pacific Coast Highway, and flipping several times before landing on rocks. Your severe head injury is not recoverable, and the gorgeous photo that ends up being your last, is the lasting symbol of a life well-lived, and the irony of how quickly you lost it.
Social media can give us the life that we never fathomed, and if we’re lucky the major alterations can extend our lifespan if we’re able to cautiously juggle the duties that keep us contentedly activated.
But our good fortune from clicks and likes can also kill our ability to make the wise decision to not claim ownership of the roles we weren’t born to play.
The numbers game is becoming the number one threat to the countless lives stationed all over the globe, that are committed to the never-ending mission of out-doing and out-pacing competitors with the #dopest #adventures that result in thousands of reactions — alighted with fire emojis.
And the risk taking involved can be as deadly as hailing from a country that has zero tolerance when it comes to citizens being added to the list of notable influencers. Photos depicting the subject leaning against a sports car with a backdrop that resembles Venice Beach, could be eerily foreboding when the stunning model is found dead in the very same vehicle after being pummeled with bullets — weeks later.
Only time will tell how many more young lives will be permanently devoured by the influencer culture, that subjects us to the recklessness of interpreting the falsehood of how too much is not enough — and instant fame with all its trappings is way better than settling for the ordinariness of paying your dues with laborious output that bounds you to an immovable cubicle.
The pursuit of happiness shouldn’t be the 24/7 enslavement to the validations and verifications from people who don’t give a shit whether you live or die.
But then again what do I know, I’m just a broke-ass unverified loser who is weirdly managing to live her #bestlife.