I HAD AN INTERESTING but let’s say weird line of thought the other day. It was about eunuchs and I think most would agree it was an odd thought, given the subject matter.
To add some context and bring a more contemporary interpretation to the conversation though, I might add that I wasn’t thinking in terms of the Medieval times but instead, what I see as the new eunuchs of social media…Or ESM if you like the quick-speak use of acronyms.
My thinking behind the trend of ESM began when I read a recent piece by Bianca Vivion Brooks where she wrote; “I grow weary when I think of this [a world measured by followers, views, likes and shares] as the new normal for what is considered to be a fruitful personal life.”
She is, of course, referring to life online, adding, “Social media is no longer a mere public extension of our private socialization; it has become a replacement for it.”
Ms. Brooks seems to be suggesting and I happen to agree that we’ve gone from blurring the line between real and illusory lives to removing that line.
A form of digital neutering that diminishes or even eliminates our ability to handle the kind of person-to-person, real-life and honest interactions with other people we once had and is so vital to our humanity.
As Ms. Brooks suggests, we are replacing the void created by this lack of humanity with the fakery of our virtual lives. We are becoming our own props, camera operator and director in a social media movie that pretends to be us.
Where once we actively engaged face to face, listened, organized and even made change happen (think civil rights), we now make use of a hashtag, falsely believing we are contributing to a better world.
Hashtag ClimateChange does not make you an environmental crusader and saviour of our planet. That’s not how it works and hashtagging in place of concrete action is a pretend world that lives only on a screen and encourages a life lived superficially by rewarding ESM’s with likes, views and shares.
Eunuchs of Social Media replace real emotions with emojis, activism with hashtags, conversation with tweets and life’s events with selfies. Seriously, does the world really need another self-evident Instagram post featuring a smiling selfie, taken in the car with bemused possibly befuddled kids in the back seat and hashtagged with: #driving #pickingupkids #school #lovemykidstopieces #busylife #drivesafely?
If we are looking for ever more witnesses to validate the significance of our lives, does a post that will never be remembered or be missed achieve that goal?
Anais Nin once wrote, “The secret of a full life is to live and relate to others as if they might not be there tomorrow, as if you might not be there tomorrow.” That is a small taste of humanity in action and might be a good yardstick by which to measure our interactions with real people and real friends.
Bill McQuarrie is a former magazine publisher, photojournalist and entrepreneur. Semi-retired and now living in Port McNeill, you can follow him on Instagram #mcriderbc or reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.