The power and allure of social media engagement seems to be dimming out. Praise the heavens! Personally, I am thrilled to imagine that there will be new emerging ways for us to connect, share our lives, ideas, work, and experiences.
From the moment the socials began I felt a very specific dread. Of course I dreaded the same typical things everyone else dreaded… forced indoctrination into making your entire life and relationships part of a marketable sellable brand, amplifying vapid and superficial representations of being human in a way that is highly damaging to the burgeoning self esteem of adolescents and young adults, getting all comfy with free business tools only to lose control of your livelihood through algorithms battling it out in an attention economy set up to benefit whoever can “pay to play”, wasting one’s own life away scrolling through other people’s lives while tech giants make mega bank off our human need for connection and economic survival.. And on and on.
There was one dread that was louder than the other dreads, and I intend to explore it in this essay.
So here it is. My primary dread.
The feedback loop brain chemical reaction to what is “liked” and likable, and how that could and would change our perception of our own deepest truest desires that may not be as universally deemed acceptable by the Gods of popular internet socialization skills... and how these truer parts of ourselves may become dormant as we attempt to maintain successful virtual relating dictated by silent agreed upon rules. In other words.. What becomes of our highly personal and unique minds, hearts, hopes, goals, use of time… when we are being influenced by an external validation group think feedback loop? Or in other, other, words… every “like” (or not) automatically neurologically conditions a sense of what is likeable about ourselves and one another, because brain chemistry is powerful, and with a day in and day out stream of virtual trend learning.. We “get it” and on one level or another we “do it”. Ok fine. People like what they like, and people don’t like what they don’t like. Who cares, why does that matter?
Personally, I think it matters because I believe we get more out of life when we stay true to our own inner compass, and when we challenge ourselves by engaging in things that take us out of our comfort zone and into experiences that are very much not what we “think we like” in order to stretch into new territory. This goes just as much for relationships, jobs, travel destinations… if I think for sure I know what I want, and who I want, and where to go, and I am all cozy tucked into what feels perfectly set up and aligned for “me and my tastes” - I know I am probably heading in the wrong direction.
How can life ever have the opportunity to surprise us with it’s wild bounty of the unexpected and unknown if we are so busy curating our every experience to fit perfectly into our comfort zone? So when social media began and I could sense my own inner pleasure center light up when I got more attention and likes for __fill in the blank___ I knew I had to learn from the very start to resist. Not because I want to be a social outcast, and not because I won't (or haven't) engaged in a way that is in the likability pocket (I have) in order to be part of the whole weird world of online socializing (I am fully indoctrinated) - BUT I only ever went about knee deep in...because I didn't want to lose track of my own sense of desire, idiosyncratic interests, and unexpected layers of personality… the part of me that has nothing to do with being likeable or influenceable… the part of me that came here to really live.
Ok so back to the title of this essay. If you aren’t constantly engaged in what you like and you aren’t constantly engaged in what other people like (or don’t like) about you and everything… then you are more open for something new and unexpected to unfold instead.
Something totally unlike anything you knew you liked, and unlike anything that you knew people liked.
Something that passionately leads out from your heart and into life just because it's what is present, vibrant, raw, and real. With no need to be seen, heard, quantified.
Just that force that drives you to discover life, and to discover yourself.