Enough time has passed in the internet age. It's no new news that social media is fast becoming a problem. Chewing us up then spitting us out, having harvested our best memories, thoughts and restaurant dinners. Today, this transaction is no longer the novelty it once was: broadcasting ourselves personally, professionally (and sexually) across multiple platforms and in a variety of ever changing media, has formed a core part of most of our modern lives. Still largely un-researched, various mental disorders associated with our social media obsession are already being identified; Phantom Vibration Syndrome is that thing when you constantly think your phone is vibrating- which happens to me all the time and leaves me feeling nothing but unpopular and pathetic. Other research has shown that internet addiction plagues the mind in similar ways to alcohol or drug addiction, and will surely become a huge part of my generations future mental health.
Personally I try and stave off the feed's, though more often than not I trip and fall and loose many productive hours trawling the seabed of bland lives belonging to creatures They only let me call 'Acquaintances'. The other day, however, I stumbled upon something that profoundly changed the way I view the internet, and the way in which I consume it.
In among my daily trawl, I found myself watching a video which showed a 17 year old girl being stoned to death in Saudi Arabia. Perhaps a common sight to many, however,within my context I found this quite stunning. The video itself was Sandwiched between an overexposed breakfast photograph (taken by a a uni chum) and the filtered face of someone I know from ex on the beach- who was trying to sell me shoes without telling me they were trying to sell me shoes.
Naturally, I watched the scene in it's entirety; unfortunately, I am that way inclined.
I saw the mass crowd jeer as concrete crushed the girls skull into the dust beneath. I saw the blood pour out from beneath the slab as my peripheries were filled by the bleeping meme's of a group 'chat' I was unable to leave. Being a Pseudo-Red blooded male, I also noticed how beautiful she was-or could have been- and how it was probably lustful thoughts exactly like mine that had got the girl stoned in the first place. Upon further research, I found I was correct; She had lost her virginity before marriage. In short, I watched a girl die before my eyes, and before a crowd of pot bellied men wearing linen shirts not unlike the ones my own father would wear. It was the morning, and I was drinking a coffee and had David Attenborough's Galapagos on Pause.
It was this context that unsettled me most. Such brutality sitting neatly beside such mundanity. Has this become the mindset of a generation, or indeed, a species? That if anything doesn't fit into our own personal context, then it is worthless?
The nature of social media means we can dictate and design everything to fit our own, specific requirements. Therefore anything that doesn't fit in within the limited parameters of our world view is processed in the same way as we might process a video of a cat playing the piano. In a way, they become one and the same.
The video ended and I felt a kind of crushing burn in the pit of my stomach. The kind I usually get when i'm hungover, or have had bad sex. Shamefully,I moved on. Continuing my morning survey of the constant, never changing lives of my peers.
A positive (if there could be one?) is that the prominence and accessibility of of such violent imagery does raise great awareness, though I'm not completely convinced awareness is enough to mean anything anymore. A tweet, a retweet- whatever - surely all it does is absolve us of personal responsibility and guilt? Controversially, this can only be a good thing for our collective anxiety-which has reached an all time high.
Will we soon be able to sit through an entire playlist of people being executed, hung or beheaded, then duly move on with our day? safe in the knowledge we retweeted this to our 200 followers. The brain can easily be tricked into thinking that it was all nothing but pretence. Picture this - if you saw someone being attacked in the street, would you take a photo, tell the three closest people that this was wrong, then head back to work? The principle must remain the same.
So, as the internet invades and conquers more of our physical lives, are victims (like the girl in the video) to be viewed as nothing more than upcoming reality stars in a strange, disgusting world where brutality and violence are deemed worthy of our screens? Is the modern mind being shaped by social media?