Thursday, January 15, 2015

Fearbook, Ice Buckets and the Selfie Generation

I'm not old, am I? Not that I'd have a problem if I were properly old, i.e. 90, but I'm barely forty and in my head I'm still really young. My body's ticking along, doing what it's supposed to do. I have small children. I listen to music that's in the charts. I even know the words - some of them, anyway. I have a Twitter account - okay, I don't use it, but I still have one, just in case I felt the need to summarise the minutiae of my daily existence in 140 characters (but, obviously, this sentence alone shows you that this is something I would most likely be incapable of.) Yet somehow a rift has emerged between me and the people coming behind me and it's social-media based. I think I've figured out what it is.

First off, I like Facebook - even if Mark Zuckerberg knows more about me than I probably do - and I even have two accounts, for my Irish and German lives respectively. But certain aspects of it are beyond me: it serves as a means of frightening the bejabbers out of a person. I mean, I never realised there were so many things just waiting to kill me till I joined Facebook. There I was, just raising my children and minding my own business, then suddenly, I am made aware - by way of badly-punctuated memes - that I am slathering them in carcinogenics on a daily basis. Suncream! Fabric conditioner! Water!!! See, I thought I was feeding my children but instead I am stuffing them with chemicals and plastic which will render them one-eyed, senseless and impotent. Instead of going out to work to pay for our mortgage, I should be at home scrubbing my counter-tops with baking soda and vinegar, making bread from wheat I grew in my flowerbeds, dunged only with the contents of our loo.

The stress is immense.

The most disturbing thing about Facebook - from the point of view of my rapid ageing - is the marked difference between me and my little brother's generation. My youngest brother was born when I was eighteen: he could've been my son (and was, to our mutual annoyance, often mistaken thus). In social media terms, he is an entire generation - which accounts for millennia and several billion light-years - away from me. I spent my youth trying to avoid being photographed. In my day, it was considered the sign of successful teenagerdom if you managed to spend the decade without your likeness being captured on film in any form. God knows, there are thousands of Irish households with family photos devoid of teenage offspring. But this generation - this generation delights in taking photos of themselves! They do it constantly and everywhere! Social media are splattered with photos of young ones pouting and posing and making funny shapes with their fingers into the lens of their mobile phone - hundreds of photos, readers, hundreds! (And mobile phones, people! Mobile phones!!! Remember when you had 36 photos on your film and you thought carefully before you pressed the button of your camera? Uh-huh.) Young people in need of a hair cut, wearing Granddad glasses and excessive make up, duck-bumming in front of national monuments, natural phenomena and nameless other objects. When they're not doing that, they're trying to get as many people behind the lens as possible, creating a photographic equivalent of the clown car at a circus: pile in a whole heap of friends Having Fun and Being Awesome and post it on social media so the three people who haven't managed to squash into your picture will know that they weren't there when fun was had. People can't eat food any more without photographing it. No one can go anywhere without tagging themselves (and I might mention that in my world, farmers tagged cattle so they could find them if they wandered off. Now we're tagging ourselves. Good grief.)   It's enough to give old farts like me palpitations.

And I am a proverbial old fart because lots of people much older than I are hip to the new media.The Queen, Bill Clinton, the Dalai Lama and even the Pope are not averse to photo-bombing or selfies (see how casually I bandy about these new words, all confident-like?) Oh, dear. That's all I can say to that. I don't think the Internet is ready for my mug: there's been enough turmoil in the world without adding my visage to the mix.


Katie K said...

Tell me again why you like facebook? Personally, I have no intention of signing on. BTW, your blog is marvelous

Anonymous said...

Raising my fist in solidarity. My mug is bad enough when I spot it in the mirror first thing in the morning and go into my ninja stance to fight off the enemy. As someone who has embraced the internet for its ability to get me all of the free information that I can cram into my head, my many and copious hard drives and stuffed into crevices in the walls as well as to deliver my second husband Stevie-boy to my doorstep, I feel a bit mingy complaining about it BUT what can be used for great good (knowledge, social interaction between sad bored people and the aged like us ;) ) can also be used for enormous stupidity. They even sell selfie sticks now so that you can get that right bit of distance between yourself and your camera-phone out there. Social media is breeding a race of ever increasingly envious anorexics who MUST check in constantly to all of their social media sites just in case something is "trending" that they might miss out on. Talk about an advertisers dream! I love the new pope by the way. I am in NO way Catholic, but he makes me smile. I doubt he will live much longer with his antiestablishmentarianism but long may he reign as a man of the people!

Gracey is not my name.... said...

:-) although I don't Twitter, I do Instagram...and have a Tumblr, but rarely use it....Facebook I do use pretty often...but most of the pictures I take of myself are of me wearing projects I made...those are my selfies...

Annie Cholewa said...

Oh I do agree. And Instagram, what's that about? Validation I guess, but there's a lot of food going cold out there while folk are styling it and sharing it.

As always, and with apologies for so rarely commenting, many thanks for the giggles and the deep thoughts ;o)

The Foggy Knitter said...

I'm somewhere between you and your brother in age, so I came of age just as social media emerged as a thing. It's odd... the sociologists of the future will be drowning in material though.

Those Granddad glasses, oh those glasses, I spent most of my teens and into my early 20s trying to get my dad to go for an eye test and get rid of his pair, no sooner does he get settled into his new glasses for a few years then they're suddenly fashionable and everywhere!!! Mercifully he isn't (so far) bought another pair. I have seen pictures of him back in the 60s wearing that style of glasses that's how long he wore them for.

I have never taken a selfie (not sure how to), but then I just turned 30, what do I know?