I don’t easily fit in well with society’s acceptable faces and demonstrations. As a Meyers-Briggs INTJ, I have always awkwardly lingered on the sidelines hoping to be unnoticed yet wishing to be seen. Wrestling with an artlessly simple, gawky, view of the world where merit reigns supreme I am often disappointed.
This clumsy world vision isn’t the contrived hipster version of pseudo-not-caring or carefully maintained nonchalance and genteel sophistication. I really don’t always know when I should care and when I shouldn’t. Social cues are painfully missed, misread, or overlooked to the point of insult and offense.
Yet, somehow, all these years I have struggled through, gained some form of social aptitude and learned to function among the masses.
That was as good as it got, back in the day, and it was ok. It was good enough.
Those were the days before social media. Before sixteen personality quizzes a day reaffirmed how truly socially awkward I am. Those were the days before the reality of people living with each other, laughing, sharing life in sweetness and sadness, shared lunches and birthday parties scrolled in an endless litany of non-invites and mutual confessions.
While I am sure I know my life is as full as I can bear, it is also true that I have never tasted lonely so deeply as I have since the advent of Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, and Pinterest.
An Internet community forged from opportunity and tagged pictures created a enigmatic monster who doesn’t allow much room in real life for lives lived ugly and honest. Sharing artfully arranged micro-images of life that endeavor to make us appear less double-chinned, more Pinterest-friendly, and more More than who we truly are in yoga pants and hoodies.
The flip side of this falsely cheerful digital imitation existences are those who wear pain like a badge of honor and wrest compassion and empathy from every corner while burning voices and tear drenched posts expose darkness and wrestle blindly and brutally with every kind of issue. In this venue of public scrutiny, those who have hurt them are put on trial and a jury of public opinion advocates and defends the perpetual victim while condemning the faceless perpetrator.
The rest of us fill our time sharing lyrics, beautiful images, funny thoughts, and the ever-present pop-culture memes to make us giggle. This social media keeps us too busy to really find each other or too afraid for the Real World coffee dates.
In spite of all this…
I have never been aware of loneliness as I have since the Internet revealed how I should live and millions of Jones’ floated through my browser tempting me to compare the house I live in, the car I drive, the styles I choose, the dreams I dream, the measure of my success by site traffic and publication options.
All this connectivity and no connection keeps the observers and the introverts on the edges of a never-ending social circus. The polarization of sound-bytes and poorly developed opinions makes the loudest voices become the weakest leaders humanity has ever known.
Who are we becoming when we share so much and know so little?
Has the Internet become nothing more than a mass media, billion-member strong reality show?