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Social Media, Simulations and Stepping Away

Is anyone else watching the newest season of The Crown?

For the first couple seasons, I was able to watch with pure delight. It was entertaining, awe-inspiring, and straight up transportive. I constantly forgot it was real. That it was true. But as the seasons go on and time catches up with us, I find the episodes to be more sad than entertaining. Though it’s dramatized and beautiful and stunning set to song, I can’t help but think how difficult it must be for the royal family. Difficult is relative, of course. Silver spoons and unrivaled wealth are quite an opposite reality to what we would picture as “a hard life.” But to me, in so many aspects and so many ways they have lost the ability to choose. How sad must it be to live in what I can only imagine is like a simulation?

But the more I think about it, the more I get that strange, sinking feeling that we’re all at risk of living in a simulation, you know? I listened to this podcast episode over the span of a few days and the conversation highlighted something I’ve been feeling for a while now. Living in a world where social media is our source of information, our most frequent form of connection, as well as our preferred outlet for our happiest moments and ugliest grievances and everything in between seems to have heightened the worst in us and numbed the best in us.

On the one hand, we’re more calculated and curated than ever. On the other, we have no fear in saying the very first thing that comes to our mind. Completely unfiltered, we say things we never would have said even mere months ago and happily type out things we still never dare say face-to-face. It makes us braver, it seems, and not always for the better.

I know in previous articles I have shared my very complicated thoughts on social media. And just to clarify, I’m not a person who believes social media is the devil. Some of my favorite relationships and sweetest friendships are the result of these glowing apps on our phones and I’m so thankful for technology like texting and Voxer to foster friendships with some of my favorite people in the world. But something I thought about often before the great Instagram exodus was, “is any of this real?” 

The thing I wanted – did I actually want it? Did I want it to photograph it, to join the legion of others who had it or had I been brainwashed into thinking it was useful? Essential? The place I wanted to go – did I actually want to go there? Or did I want proof I had been there to exist in a little square for others to see? The things I wasn’t satisfied with – was I actually dissatisfied with it? Or was a steady diet of oversharing and overspending of others planting ruthless seeds of discontent? And possibly worst of all, that thing I loathed – did I actually loathe it? Or had the roars of thousands with no leash on their tongues or emotions poisoned me into believing hate was warranted? 

When I do step away from social media, I realized the simulation has of course seeped off the apps and into real life, but I’ve been handed a pair of 3-D glasses and can see the machine for what it is. There is such temptation to get sucked into the game for days and weeks at a time, but every now and then something will snap me back into reality and I can immediately discern what’s real and what’s manufactured. What matters for eternity and what doesn’t even matter for today. 

If this simulation is getting you down, remember to step out of it for a bit for some fresh air. It’s beautiful out here. 

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