1978 There was still snow on the ground from the blizzard. Jimmy Carter was president, the Bee Gees Saturday Night Fever album was #1 on the music charts. Good girl Sandy fell in love with greaser Danny and Jamie Lee Curtis came face to face with Michael Myers in Halloween. Collars were big and pant legs flared. Gas cost 63 cents a gallon and the average home cost $54,000. It was 1978 when I showed up in this world.
In Walks the 80s Atari and Sega didn’t keep me from playing outside till the street lights came on. Imagination was the only thing my brother and sister and I needed to be able to lose track of time. We had this thing called a record player. My sister and I would shut off all the lights in the basement and listen to Thriller on repeat. Sometimes it skipped and we would just dance to the skipped noises, cause it was still music to our ears. The turquoise Le Clic camera my sister got for her birthday was coolest camera I’ve ever laid eyes on. On Friday nights I got to stay up late on our mustard colored couch, eat potato chips and drink soda while Knight Rider was on. Life was simple in my corner of the world. It was the 80s.
All That and a Bag of Chips My mom would drive me to the store to pay $9.99 a month for my pager. That included unlimited paging. On the weekends the disappointment that followed during trips to Major Video, when the movie I wanted to see was not on the shelf, quickly dissipated when my friends and I could record our own songs using my boombox and a cassette tape. There was the agony of waiting for the latest issue of Teen Beat magazine to come out so that I could somehow fit another New Kids on the Block poster on my bedroom wall. Brenda and Dylan was greatest love story I had ever witnessed and every penny I made from babysitting went to Contempo Casuals because of Cher and Dionne from Clueless. It was the 90s…no duh.
Enter Our latest reality I don’t remember the transition into our latest reality but I do remember when we liked things without giving a virtual thumbs up, without the fear of insult. When life was simple. When we had to get pictures developed and await the anticipation of how they looked, and we were ok with them because visible flaws couldn’t be covered up by some app. When the phone would ring and you’d answer it rather than send a text. When an hour would pass and it wasn’t wasted scrolling through a newsfeed watching other’s carefully constructed highlight reels play out. A time when the comments, stories and opinions of others were discussed in person rather than online where they live forever to be misconstrued, judged and misunderstood as purely narcissistic. Our new reality can seem like a dark place at times.
I don’t remember the transition into our latest reality but I do remember when we liked things without giving a virtual thumbs up, without the fear of insult. When life was simple. When we had to get pictures developed and await the anticipation of how they looked, and we were ok with them because visible flaws couldn’t be covered up by some app.
The Upside of Our New Reality There are upsides to our new reality, some light in the tunnel of the over consumption of social media. The sharing and the reconnections. The heartfelt stories and videos that we can witness in real time. We share our photos with family and friends who don’t live close by. We reconnect with people that were once an important part of our lives. We tell our stories, reveal beautiful moments and we become more self aware. We can keep it positive, light hearted and make someone’s day in seconds with a kind word. Of course that choice is up to us. I believe social media is all about how you decide to use it.
Always the informer I’ve been nicknamed the informer since I was 3. I’m a sharer. I am also moved by other people’s stories, the struggles they overcome. I’ve met some of the most interesting and incredible people through social media. And I get to share my story. I get to use that as a way to connect virtually with people all over the world. That is where I light up inside. Where the positive power of the internet walks in. So for me the answer is to keep it going under my terms, for now. Dismiss the negative images. Unfollow, delete and move on when necessary. Share when I feel compelled and decide to walk away when it’s time.
I always imagine the day I officially walk away from social media. I think about the time I won’t be wasting. The opinions that are floating around I don’t have to wonder or obsess about. The idea that I can stay present in a moment without grabbing my phone to take a photo and hit share. A day when my life isn’t on display.
Maybe having lived for 2 decades years before any of our new “social reality” existed has me wanting to go back. Back to when life was simpler, less complex. I’m pretty sure I can manage without it…someday. And I’m pretty sure life will still be all that and a bag of chips.