Tap, tap, tap.
Scroll, scroll, scroll.
A friend checking into a shopping mall. A marriage. Baby’s first birthday. An advertisement for an Indian restaurant in Vienna. Random philosophical quote with a spelling error. New brand campaign, meme or GIF on the latest trending subject. Some food that’s bright red. A shocking video or two. A dozen pictures clicked with the same background and people starting petitions (oh, not for the dozen pictures).
Basically a blur of text, images and videos that increasingly make less sense with every scroll because the brain stops processing them. And yet the fingers tap away, hoping to derive some cathartic pleasure out of the act. Maybe there will be light at the end of the tunnel, happiness at the end of the Facebook feed. But more often that, all that awaits us at the end of the feed is loneliness, a sense of lost time, and tired fingers.
It’s not just Facebook, of course. It’s all those zillion competitors and me-toos, the ones with the unique ‘motto’ and ‘purpose’, the companies whose offices are getting swankier by the day. Instagram for all the breakfast photographers, the paparazzi, the fashion gurus. LinkedIn for the highbrow and the corporate and those who want to be highbrow and corporate. Twitter for the newsy, the hashtaggers, the ones always up to date and in-the-loop.
There’s something for each one of us, each one of us for something. And scrolling through our social feeds is our unsaid, tacit pastime for all odd moments in the day – when stuck in traffic, in a boring meeting, before going to sleep, on a dinner date, idling on the toilet seat. Yeah, they made notifications and alerts so you could choose what’s important and demands attention. But who needs that when there’s scrolling through everything as an option?
There are some of us who genuinely enjoy all this time spent being social. Some of us do it because it’s part of our job. And some of us do it to not be left behind, to not be left out. When we were kids, our parents would impose restrictions on our screen time – how many hours of TV we could watch, how many hours of video games we could play, etc.
But we are adults now.
Sensible, smart, health-conscious, positive-thinking adults who can do this for themselves. Adults who go to sleep texting on their smartphones even though they just read a news story that mentioned ‘no screen time before sleeping’. Adults who think others are having a good life because they posted a happy picture with the hashtag #perfectfamily. Adults (like yours truly) who unwittingly start their mornings reading about heinous crimes and hatred on their social media feed, and go about the day obsessing about that-thing-they-read.
Worth it? No.
Well, I am terrible at adulting. And I agree with the kitty up there – maybe I am not very good at scrolling either. So this is one thing I am going to do. I am going to seriously curtail this tap-tap-scroll-scroll motion of my fingers and let my phone screen age gracefully through the years. Social media is supposed to make you want to be social, not make you want to disappear into a cage and lock yourself from the world.
Bring on the books. Flipping is such a comforting movement.