For anyone who knows me, they’ll know that I’m in love with stories. At the core of me, you’ll find stories and it’s what draws me to writing, and to people. With life, all we really have are our stories to tell. No one looks back on a life and pinpoints their phones latest upgrade as a highlight of their existence.
My drive for authentic living too often means that I’m cynical. To me, in a world driven by messages designed to sell us something, I have every reason to be cynical. All we live through now is brands and messages and their constant need for ‘engagement’ When I talk to people about it, and people who work in the industry, the majority of people are cool with it because it’s a job and it makes money. People also tell me to stop being so cynical of everything because it’s just the way it is and I must deal with it.
“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing”
This to me sums up social media quite well. No one questions anything and we just go along with creating messages, sometimes solely for the purpose of creating them. No thought goes into anything, but we just create noise because, well, we’re paid to do something. If you want money, just make anything and someone will buy it. Not in the real world, but this seems the case in the social media world. I hate it and I have every right to. Maybe I just hate the rules and I hate what is normal. I even hate sitting at a red pedestrian traffic light when no pedestrians are crossing. You never feel more controlled by an evil system than when you can see it is safe to drive through a pedestrian crossing, but you can’t because you might get fined.
Now I’m all for social media, but within boundaries. Brands are like that needy partner, constantly needing attention and engagement, for no particular reason other than they are needy. Clients pay agencies, and what they want to see is engagement. They don’t care what sort of engagement, they just want to see that people are talking about them. Well a lot of people are talking about our president, so by God he must be brilliant. If an agency were running Jacob Zuma, they’d be praised from the heavens and showered in gold. What they fail to work into this equation is people are talking about him because he’s a criminal and possibly one of the worst people we could have to run our country.
The problem for me is we are creating a cycle of stupidity. People are being employed to do shit work. That work is then being put out there, and consumers are actually responding to it. When you start talking to your rice, or the spread you put on your bread, do you really think this is good for your mind in the long run? Sure, heroin is worse, but we are just creating a zombie like state of people who are obsessed by brands and never really contemplate anything else about life.
We create people who go outside for the sole purpose of getting Instagram likes, because people also want ‘engagement’ We now have needy brands and needier people. Our sole purpose is now measured through metrics, instead of the pure moments in life. To me, life is all about those pure moments, yet I suppose I am part of a problem of sorts, but with a purpose. I take photos for Instagram because I want people to experience what I do, in the hope that they will try and experience the same things. I don’t want to inspire people to buy shit they don’t need. I don’t want to be on an agencies ‘influencer’ list.
There are a lot of moments in my life where I’ve stood, rapt in awe, about what I’m feeling and experiencing and none of those moments have ever been from buying a product or talking to a brand. The problem is, people are now mistakingly thinking these moments of buying things and getting engagement online are the real moments in life. They’re not. They’re designed by brands to influence your behaviour so you buy their stuff.
I buy stuff, obviously, but I’m a pretty conscious consumer. I research the products I buy, and I buy out of necessity. I can live out of 2 bags very easily and not miss a single thing. And it’s killing me that people can’t do this. It’s killing me that our day to day lives online are filled by messages. Messages are great if they make us think, open our minds or educate us. But messages like this?
No. And asking people this…
This needs to stop, and I really mean it. We’re creating a generation of fools. We’re creating people who think that having these jobs of making these messages is OK. In what world this is OK, I do not know.
I just know that authenticity is dying. Knowledge is dying. True, great stories are dying. Content that leaves a real mark on us is dying.
I’m not going to sit around and act like it’s alright because there’s money in it and that ‘it’s a job’
Through thousands of years of evolution, have we really come to this point, where these messages fill our days? Where we’re happy with this? I’m not.
So don’t engage this type of content, and make an effort to live a life filled with pure moments, instead of one where you’re just seemingly happy because you’re busy and people are talking to you and liking your stuff and you made a Tweet for a brand at work that got 6 replies and 10 Retweets.
Make a life, not a brand.