If I was a kid age 8 to 18, the minutes that I spend playing a new game or read a short article on my favorite news website on my phone would consist only of a fraction of the seven and a half hours a day that I spend with media. Do I care? Not really. By which of course I mean that there’s a fat chance that I’m going to stop doing it.
Seven and a half hours that’s from a study conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation (an American NGO for polling and analysis) in 2009, up about an hour and a half from the same study done in 2004. So now in 2017, I think it’s safe to say that we’re very close to 8 hours. If we split the day into nice even thirds; we get 8 hours of the day to sleep (unless you’re a hard-worker or an over-sleeper), eight hours of the day where we consume media like rabid, hungry wolves, and the other eight hours…
What do we do for the eight other hours of the day? Ah, yes, we get stuck in Nasr City’s traffic jam.
So, what’s to be made of all of this? I don’t want to criticize those who spend lots of time with social media. Clearly, your relationship with media -like everything else- is your own thing, and your own affair. But I do think there is something missing from the Kaiser Family Foundation’s report.
See, today’s media is ultimately social, which means that it consists not only of consumption, but also of expression, and those two things are relentlessly intertwined. Whatever you consume has been mostly expressed by someone else and whatever you express will be consumed by others. There is a total awareness of this in social media. Facebook and Twitter are not journals or diaries, whatever you post on there is posted with your complete understanding that others will see it. Not only see it but will probably comment on it and thus express themselves for your own responsive consumption and so on.
A Facebook status, like a novel or a v-log, is a request for judgment, whether we actually admit it or not. Any serial twitter-er who tells you that they don’t care what others think is probably lying. Shared expression is the definition of caring what others think. There’s such a thing as expression for its own sake but that’s what a pen and a note/diary are for.
The point is whatever medium of shared expression you choose will be the medium by which you are asking to be judged. If all we’re getting from you in terms of expression is a Facebook status like “I ate ma7shy today and it felt like heaven!” or “Did you hear the latest song from Coldplay? Man, it is baaaaaad” or even the simplest cheesiest Arabic quote that’s out there, don’t be surprised if you’re treated equally as simple or equally as idiotic.
Your social media personality is not YOU, it’s a performance of you. And maybe for yourself, it is easy not to confuse which is which, but it’s not so easy for all those who only see this performance and are disposed in many ways to treat others as stereo-typically as they can. And maybe sometimes you get frustrated feeling that others don’t understand you, don’t see or respect what you want. Maybe you feel like you’re always coming out of conversations or arguments with your point poorly made.
Well, I’ll let you in on a secret. Those who can speak well, to the point and lucidity, practice. These people trip up like everyone else, but less often. More times than not they make their point and come out even of a normal conversation feeling like you have a better understanding of what they want and who they are. Not everyone is or has to be an artist, not everyone has to write a novel or make an album, but there is something to be said for a little bit of reserve when it comes to expression. That way, you can preserve some of your own mystery, some of your own subtlety, you can escape some unnecessary judgment, and you can recover the power of your own voice.