Today we live in a world where robots are slowly taking over our jobs and artificial intelligence knows more about us than our own mothers do. We spend more time looking at our Instagram feeds than we do our loved ones and there are more pictures of people’s breakfasts online than there are of Niel Armstrong’s first trip to the moon. Recently, I have started to think a lot about how technology has had an impact on my own life. Sure, it’s not all bad, like the fact that you can start an entire career with just a smartphone and a camera. Technology has done wonders for the world, but the boundaries are becoming blurry and I think it’s important to talk about it.
The other day I found myself repeatedly refreshing my Instagram feed after I had just posted a photo. I casually pulled down my feed to refresh the page expecting to see the infamous little red bubble telling me how many likes I had gained. However, to my dismay, there was no little bubble, which made me question whether I should have even posted the photo in the first place. It was at this point that I had to take a step back and question my behavior. Acknowledging this thought processes was a harsh reality that was very difficult to admit to myself.
Beleive it or not, it is actually possible for apps to continuously update content and notifications without you having to physically pull down your feed. However, Apps sometimes use this mechanic because the “pull down” action can create an addictive illusion in which you stand a chance to win a reward (i.e. the little red bubble on Instagram). Human behaviour is a consequence of incentives and rewards, so, this illusion is enough to encourage you to do it over and over again. Of course, Facebook, Instagram and social media platforms alike want us to constantly swipe, scroll and tap every day, multiple times per day because this is their economic imperative. They engineer their platforms so that we do not have a reason to leave.
Becuase of this, it has become so easy to allow technology to consume us. We get wrapped up in virtual worlds, often crafting perfect and idealistic versions of ourselves and giving the impression that this is what our “real life” is like. However, and I’m sure I don’t just speak for myself here, I do not always sit in a picturesque cafe, with a perfectly set marble table, whilst fake laughing at my Chai latte and wearing the most uncomfortable skirt known to man.
If you are prone to comparing yourself to others (as most people are), social media feeds can definitely become a trigger as the filtered images create a sense that your life is not as “perfect” as those that you see on your screen. We hide behind our phones because it has become easy. We can control exactly how people see us online, we can take the easy way out and avoid confronting people face-to-face, and we can get instant gratification from simply posting a pretty picture and watching the likes pour in. We have replaced human interaction and connection with something that is not actually real.
Having said all this, we need to remember that we do have a choice in the matter, and we are the only ones who can truly control our own behaviour (until robots take over the world of course). Technology is only evolving and becoming more immersive. So, we need to figure out ways in which we can protect our mental state. Whether that be signing out of social media two hours before you go to bed or simply taking a step back before you unlock your phone or post a photo and asking yourself this: am I making a conscious choice?
Personally, I am going to start putting boundaries in place and questioning the true reason why I am opening social media or posting photos. This was all inspired by my meetup with the ever so beautiful Amber Gisele and the remarkably talented Mikelenses. Amber is a flourishing plant-based influencer and Mike is a professional photographer who is able to tell a story about someone in a single shot. Both of them are wonderful and kind souls.
I met this wonderful couple on Instagram a few weeks ago, and after exchanging a couple of messages, we decided that we should get together sometime. We met at the Oranjezicht Farm Market (aka Amber’s second home) on Saturday morning. After chatting for a bit, Mike and Amber all of a sudden changed from two curated Instagram icons to actual real people. Amber and I both admitted to each other that we were a little nervous and unsure to meet up. However, had we not made the effort, we would have just remained additional likes on each other’s Instagram photos instead of wonderful new friends. We spent the entire morning exchanging stories and learning about each other’s lives. It felt like we had been friends for years and we already have plans to meet up again next weekend. It reminded me that we are so much more than our Facebook and Instagram profiles. No matter how much technology evolves, nothing can replace real human connection.
I think the most important thing for us to do is to remain aware. Take notice of your behaviour on social media and question the true meaning of it. Enjoy technology for what it is and use to make friends, find inspiration and express creativity.
Below are a few more pictures of our super sunny Saturday morning at the market. The vibrant atmosphere and delicious, organic meals were amazing. I hope these photos encapsulate that!