I joined Facebook in 2008, the first year of the current Crisis Era. I was really just jumping on a bandwagon – everyone around me was joining and I wanted to be a part of it. It was an early example of FOMO, I suppose. I soon found myself reconnecting with people from my past – from high school and college – distant in time and place from where my life was then. Facebook became a place of gathering. It also became a place to assess my life, as I saw how the careers and family lives of my peers had progressed compared to mine.
Eventually I reconnected in physical space with some friends, and renewed relationships. It was as though – assisted by social media – my life folded back on itself and began again from a past point. I wonder if others of my generation have had the same experience – a chance to revisit the past and reorient oneself towards the future. Like social media is our hot tub time machine.
I wonder if the experience of social media has been different for other generations. Some Boomers I know have embraced social media wholeheartedly, and post far more than I do. For them the smartphone age represents an even greater technological leap from their childhood than my generation experienced. Millennials, on the other hand, have joined social media at a younger age than Generation X – in young adulthood rather than midlife – but they still remember a time when it did not exist.
The one generation that stands out as fully immersed in “the social” is the Homeland generation, the first of whom were born in 2005. Their entire lives are documented on social media, from the first ultrasound images in the womb to the latest back to school snapshot standing outside of the family home. They are the true superstars of social media.
I still post regularly on Facebook, using it as a kind of diary to keep track of my life. It is fun to revisit the year and see all the places I have checked in, and my patterns of work and play. It’s also a joy to watch people I know from different times and places in my life come together in a discussion in the comments section of one of my posts.
We’ve been in the age of the social for a good decade now. I’m curious about how the experience has been different for people encountering it at different stages of their lives. If you’d care to share your experience in the comments below, please do.
I’ve posted recently about Millennials and how they’ve taken over YouTube and invented new genres of video content. One common pattern is to analyze and pick apart other creative content, like popular music and film. Everything gets rehashed so quickly one must be wary of it being spoiled before one even gets around to consuming it in its original form.
Sometimes these channels are silly parodies – I’m sure you have been subjected to videos such as this one at some point. Others are serious and intelligent; I’ve already mentioned in a previous post the excellent set of video essays at Every Frame a Painting.
One particular way that film gets worked over on YouTube channels is through proposing alternate plots and endings. It’s almost as though the movie ending is another one of the aspects of modern life that Millennials are ruining.
An example of the sillier sort is How It Should Have Ended. But even though this is a parody channel, it often exposes movie plot problems in insightful ways. A serious example is Nando v Movies, which focuses on blockbuster hits like the recent massive wave of superhero films. The creator’s mind holds the treasure trove of pop culture knowledge characteristic of the modern film geek.
Here are a couple of Nando v Movies videos where he rewrites the recent Wonder Woman movie. I enjoyed that movie, but have to agree that it was not excellent. It’s hard not to think that the imagined version described below would have been much better. Sorry if this ruins the movie for you.
In the classic television show The Waltons (which you can binge-watch on Amazon Prime if you’d like), the Walton family is often seen sitting around their radio, listening to news or to one of the Presidents fireside chats. Ever since the invention of broadcast communication using electromagnetic radiation, some form of this ritual has been a hallmark of modern life.
When I was young, we sat around the television, which picked up a signal that was broadcast over the air. It was a huge deal when sometime in the 1980s we upgraded to receiving our signal over a wire. Even back then we had many electronic devices in the house, in contrast to the Waltons, who only had their beloved radio.
Fast forward to my early adulthood and you might have found my friends and I enacting the ritual around a computer screen, playing a strategy game. We would all have insisted on playing competitively against one another, but today’s young generation can be seen gathered around a game where one person is playing and the rest spectating. Either way the social bonding around the screen remains a constant.
Now that I am in mid-life and enfolded again into a multi-generational family, we repeat the ritual gathered around the Internet. For that is what our big screen is connected to now, the old commercial channel format replaced by streaming on demand. We sometimes sit and watch short videos on YouTube, discussing them in heated arguments, or showing our favorite new finds to one another. For whatever faults the Internet may have, it has become a place of gathering, of sharing and interacting.
I’ll leave off with a video from a YouTube channel we enjoy, since we are all film fans. The channel is a very erudite set of video essays on film technique. Here we learn why Edgar Wright movies are so good (and this was made before Baby Driver).
My vision has been steadily and slowly deteriorating over the years, hence the need for the updated prescription lenses for nearsightedness that I am wearing in my recent profile picture. As my field of vision shrinks, it feels like a bubble is enclosing me, collapsing on me, isolating me and rendering me irrelevant. It’s like there is a timer in my eyes ticking down to a point when they will no longer be useful; when I will no longer be useful. Planned obsolescence – not an unfitting analogy for the limited lifespan of biological organisms, who must always make way for the next generations.
Vision is governed by the third-eye chakra, where life energy is involved with the intellect and with intuition – the higher functions of the human soul, as it were. Since I am very brain-oriented, as our species tends to be, spending most of my time mentally processing symbols at work or at play, I wonder if I am overworking it. After all, my favorite hobby – board gaming – is heavily intellectual. All this analysis in the mind – and how much of it is really fruitful?
Even in this reflection I am surely overthinking things. I’m probably not overstimulating my ajna chakra to a point where I am so caught up in the whirl of internal thought processes that my portal to the external world is closing down. My eyeballs are simply warping over time, entropy taking its inevitable toll as it does on all things physical. But if I am overintellectualizing or overinternalizing, that would fit with patterns in my past. So I’m hoping a little meditating might help. I need to clear my mind, to open up my soul.