If you’ve been to my blog before, then you know that I wrote a lot about social media and all of the downsides of it. I started this blog over a year ago because I wanted to write about how my growing up online affected my self-esteem and happiness, and discuss the ways that I believe we can stay sane while regularly using the internet. I decided to open up publicly about my experience because I believed that this was an issue that the majority of people my age are dealing with. As humans, we naturally compare ourselves to others, whether we want to or not. People have done this throughout all of history, but today my generation has a very unique challenge as social media has intensified this behavior. It’s especially a challenge in high school and college when you’re still trying to find yourself and discover your purpose. We all share the pressure for getting likes and to craft the perfect online profile.
A lot of us have experienced it for years, ever since Facebook first became popular, but in the last few years, it’s become acceptable to actually come out and talk about it, instead of dealing with it in private. Since then, there has been so much talk about the negative effects of social media and internet use. That’s the viewpoint I usually take when I write about social media, and I still stand by everything that I’ve shared previously. However, today I wanted to talk about a slightly different perspective that I’ve been taking when I think about the role this technology has played in my life.
Technology and Immortality
This post was inspired because I love watching documentaries about ancient civilizations and because I also listen to a podcast called “Stuff You Missed In History Class.” I’m not usually a history buff, but hearing about ancient civilizations that existed thousands of years ago, is so fascinating to me. Through these documentaries and podcasts, I’m so amazed by what historians and archeologists can discover from people that existed so long ago. But whenever, I’m learning about a particular civilization in one of these episodes, I have noticed that as much as historians have been able to discover, there is so history that is left up to opinions, theories, and personal interpretation. There is so much that we don’t know. We’ll never know what life was really like back then, and what a normal person’s day-to-day life would have looked like. Looking back that far, we can do our best to analyze art and architecture, but there’s so much mystery surrounding what people were actually like in a different time.
Which got me thinking about what an incredible time we live in now. For my generation, in particular, we were the first ones to grow up online, but we can still remember what life was like without the internet, back when our parents couldn’t just shove an iPad in our face. We now live with social media every day and we constantly document our lives. We document everything from our clothes, to our values, music tastes, brands we like, foods we eat, who we voted for, and what social events we go to.
If you think about it, we have made ourselves immortal.
It used to be that only the kings, the queens, the famous inventors, the artists, the philosophers, the explorers, the founding fathers, the presidents, the human rights activists, etc. were written about and remembered throughout time. And historically, the “winners” (the rich, the powerful, and the famous) always write history. Meaning, that we might not ever know what really happened. Although there were some regular individuals like ourselves who did keep journals or lifelong autobiographies, not all of them have made it through generations and were carefully persevered and many of the journals that survived have been seen by few. Only the stories of the key figures throughout history have been published.
For my generation, we post everything online. We are constantly sharing our experiences, opinions, and milestones that people hundreds and thousands of years from now will be able to see and learn from. However, in conversations, we normally talk about how weird it is to always be posting online, and we judge people who share too many statuses, tweets, stories, or photos. But I think we’ve forgotten what an incredible blessing this technology is.
Our great-great-great-great-grandchildren will be able to discover our old profiles and blogs, and learn about who we are! How amazing is that? I don’t even know my great-great-grandparents’ names, let alone what they were like, what they were passionate about, or what they did for fun. Have you seen those ancestory.com commercials where some woman is able to figure out who her great-great-grandparent is and discover a random piece of paper that he signed? Have you seen how excited those people are in their testimonial that they get to have that little piece of information to give them insight about their ancestors? Imagine how amazing it would be to read their tweets, see the highlights from their lives, discover what they cared about, and learn about their daily lives. Wouldn’t that be so amazing to have all that information about our ancestors?
Future generations will be able to have those insights and that knowledge about us. They’ll be able to discover so many details about us, like who we were friends with. Hell, I bet they’ll even be able to find the old resumes we uploaded on LinkedIn a million years before that! (Ok, maybe not a million.) Historians will not have to say, “We don’t know much about this person…” or, “We don’t know why exactly _______ happened.” The content that we constantly create will be accessible, and someday be used to write history books. There won’t be so much mystery, confusion, or myths.
Remember the quote, “Let them eat cake,” which Marie Antoinette famously did not say? That can’t happen now, because everything is immediately tweeted, blogged about, or talked about in YouTube videos. It’ll leave so much less confusion years from now when historians go to make sense of important events. For example, every stupid thing that Trump has ever said or done to upset all of America (and humanity) is documented in a million ways… although he seems to be unaware of it. Did I just compare Donald Trump to Marie Antoinette??? I hope not. Poor Marie Antoinette.
Why This Matters
I wanted to share this with you today because there is so much talk on and offline, about how terrible social media is, how addicting it is, and what a waste of time it is. Yes, I know I contribute to it. And yes, that’s all still true. But here we all are… continuing to share our selfies on Instagram anyways! The point is that social media can be unhealthy if it’s not used carefully, but maybe it’s time to stop the constantly sh*t-talking social media.
Social media has caused so much drama and emotional stress in my life. It’s lead to countless family feuds, loss of friends, and a whole lot of self-comparison. BUT, it’s also brought me new friends, new opportunities, a way to document my experiences, and a way to express myself. It’s not all evil. I also want to add that every single generation has their own challenge. This one is just a challenge unique to our generation in this particular time in history.
The idea that normal people like you and me can take photos of our daily lives, share our lives online, and publish blogs with our thoughts and personal stories, is incredible. We’ll live on in history long after we’ve passed. We’ve made ourselves immortal. What an incredible blessing that is.
So if you’re one who bashes social media and the internet, or judges people for always posting, or feels guilty when they use social media – I challenge you to change your perspective. Reflect on how wonderful it is that we have these tools to communicate – not just with each other, but with future generations too.
Thank you for reading! As always, let me know your thoughts in the comments! Do you think the internet has made us immortal? Do you view this as a blessing or a curse? And did this post help you to view social media in a slightly different way?
Photos by Ray Reyes @rocketsciencephoto.