THE INTERESTMENTARIAN COLUMN: Has social media made us all total egomaniacs?

Published: 14th Oct, 2015

Or pronounced “Twidder” if you’re posh

Okay so here’s a new thing I’m starting on Interestment – a classic contrarian column, The Interestmentarian is what it shall henceforth be known as. 500 or so words every so often looking at something we all hold dear to our hearts and presenting it as a problem – not without direction, not just as a pointless rant, but as an exercise in questioning the world around us and meddling with the status quo (not just a band). Interestment by and large is a place where positivity rules, everyone smiles and has erections and that will never change, but to every yin there is a yang, and today social media is going under the microscope and getting a grilling (because the microscope I’m talking about has a grill attached to it).

I have a strong relationship with social media in that I use it personally, and I also use it professionally – I make a significant part of my living tweeting for various different companies, coming up with entertaining Facebook posts they can use, or writing witty captions for their Instagram feeds. It’s great fun, no one gets hurt, everyone’s a winner, people sell things, I get paid, and that side of it I’m totally down with.

No, my concern about social media comes down to the individual, the normal user. I wonder if it’s really healthy to essentially curate your own life – and I’m genuinely torn here. I’m fully committed to being an online guy, I tweet lots of unfunny tweets, I’ve thrown myself into the lifestyle full frontal and legs akimbo, I scream full heartedly into the abyss. I’ve been writing status updates and uploading cool vibes for ages, probably since before you were born (unless you happen to be over 8). Along the way I’ve broken every promise I made to myself about online restraint by posting way too many images of my baby son from different angles, or repeatedly urging people to read self-indulgent think pieces like this one. You won’t see the 75-80 per cent of photos of me where my eyes are shut, or my hair looks fucked, or my teeth look super-crooked rather than just quite crooked, or where I somehow seem to have camel toe, because those ones will never make the cut.

And really that’s the point, it feels quite make-believe. Like we’re spinning a yarn about our lives, creating the ideal version for public consumption that’s just a funny mirror reflection of the reality. We’re constantly editing, viewing our lives from another perspective, objectifying ourselves to ourselves. It’s a bit like holding a mirror up to a mirror up to a mirror until you’re in danger of forgetting where the actual person is (DEEP!). I’m worried that we might all end up deliberately manufacturing memories and then where does that leave us? I’ll tell you where – totally fucked, and jumbo confused. Soon we’ll be writing our own obituaries and then the world with actually cave inwards. A bit like a crepe or a calzone.

Already I’m 64 per cent convinced that there’s not a selfie in existence that actually resembles the person who took it, that there’s not a funny quip on Twitter that wasn’t passed through a series of social filters and discussed at a couple of think tanks first – who might it offend? What kind of picture it will paint of me? Does it make me more sexy or less sexy? Will men want to be me and women want to be inside me? – yet the urge to take the stage is way too potent, it draws you in like a singing mermaid then orders you say something funny like a straight-faced merman holding a knife. You say something arch and political, you deliver some comic genius, you share relationship woes or use the small boxes of type like a confessional booth, and it’s all choreographed and you need a thumbs up or a LIKE like a crackhead needs a hit. Social media has put you directly at the centre of the universe, and you’re in danger of believing your own hype.

Question is: Are the quiet ones the real heroes here, keeping their council but enjoying the spoils? Has it made some of us massively self-obsessed? Or, more importanly, should I just shut the fuck up and enjoy that we can all paint a decent Hollywood picture of ourselves?

Oh and also, last question, does this piece make me come across as more sexy or less sexy? On a scale of 1-10…

Josh Burt
About the author:
Josh has been a writer and journalist for the best part of twenty years and has written for modern staples like FHM and Cosmopolitan and The Daily Telegraph and The Sun. He has also written a small handful of so-so books that you can still buy.

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