I was recently asked if I was addicted to anything. It didn't take me too long to think of my phone and all that it comes with-news, social media, direct messages- as being the most honest answer. I've been thinking since about what fuels that addiction and the degree to which it all controls me.
I think that people sell millennials short sometimes. They assume that we're ignorant about the beauty of real human interaction, the thrill of meeting new people serendipitously, the superiority of touches over taps.
But it's more than just an affinity for shiny gadgets that light up spontaneously and offer instant validation (insta-validation sounds like a Facebook plug-in by the way.)
Instead, we're drawn to these things because of the sense of connectedness that they provide and their ability to satisfy our desire to not feel alone even when we're physically in solitude. They speak to our need to not miss out on where the action is and they convince us that when we finally arrive to the action, our presence will be appreciated and acknowledged.
What's most irrational about people's inability to understand why we seek online spaces though is that at the root of it, what we're doing is nothing new. What else is social media than a fresh take on a centuries old vice--capitalism at its finest...and most discreet. We create and share content for the consumption of our followers and friends. Unknowingly, allowing likes and retweets and comments and shares to become currency and enabling pieces of our personalities, our interests, our lives to be put up for sale--- valued at fluctuating rates based on however much traction they're gaining at the moment.
I believe though, that most of us know that there's more out there beyond the digital spaces we've become so comfortable with. Maybe it's just that too often we've allowed ourselves to be governed by the fear that once we leave the "cloud" we won't know how to really explore anything else...
Because when friends emerge from followers and relationships blossom after only a few (hundred?!) swipes on a dating app or two, it's frightening to imagine what connection could look like and feel like outside of the digital marketplace. A marketplace that we can enter freely and disconnect from quickly once interaction becomes overwhelming. But maybe the best relationships are those that don't ask for anything to be on sale, where the simple joy of shared company is the only thing on the table and where freedom from the burden of expectations breeds new gifts like wisdom, conversation, shared ideas, laughter and love.
I don't know, I think that's something I could become addicted to.