The Filtered Age
Modern times have us living in a constant state of comparison. Throughout the day we check social media and gaze through windows into the lives of everyone we know. Worse still is that these windows don’t actually reflect the realities of the lives they ostensibly document. They are idealized highlights, exaggerated and filtered, embellished like underwhelming accomplishments on a weak resume. We live our own lives as they really are, and hold them up against the curated lives of those we see on the internet.
So, naturally, we start presenting our lives in the same way. Our parties are wilder and more fun. Our offices are slicker with more amenities. Our vacations are more exotic beneath brighter skies. We take the everyday mundane and gild it with a filter, type a hyperbolically enthusiastic caption, tag it with a slew of semi-related hashtags, and post that shit at the right time of day to garner the most likes. All this to perpetuate the front.
So what happens when we there is discord between the person we present to the world and the person we actually are? What happens when neither one of our dual identities bring us joy? What is the price paid for losing sight of our true selves?
Our motivations become blurry, our hearts become entangled, and our lives lack fulfillment. When every sentence is tinged with fakery, LOLs and exclamation points, we doom ourselves even further towards self-misrepresentation. As technology becomes more ingrained in the ways we interact, our peers will know us, not by who we really are, but by the characters we play on the internet.
We lose mindfulness, we heap on double and triple consciousness: who we are to friends, who we are to strangers, who we are to ourselves. We’re cursed to never leading a life that feels the way our fake lives look on Instagram, a life actually full of love and laughter, good views and great friends. A life filled with experiences that are so engaging, so true, that we might be too distracted by wonder to pull out our phones and take a selfie.
We used to take photos to remember a moment, now we stage moments to take a photo. That kind of documentation used to be about creating a keepsake to remember the day by, now it’s about showing off to friends who aren’t really friends.
I’m not advocating that we stop using social media. Don’t stop putting your life out there for the world to see. Social media has given many creative individuals a platform, and united people for a number of noble causes. Just try to analyze your motivation, try to be sincere, and for the love of all things good in this world, stop comparing yourself to other people. Because the whole thing, every pixel, is just a representation of a subject. It is the subject itself that defines the experience. The person trumps the picture, the place is prettier than the post. The moment is all that matters.
By Sefton Eisenhart