“We strive to smoothen the rocky paths of our lives. A glossy surface is slippery. Only a reflection of what is. Our development happens in the texture of life.”
~ Maria Lehtman
I recently read in the news that people are increasingly seeking out for support in mental health issues. The specialist interviewed for the article assured that the level of mental illness and anxiety had not increased, but support staff and the threshold to seek out help were reduced.
Is it not possible that we have instead begun to search for the impossible, the holy grail of living. A stage or a façade created by a theatrical display of our digital presence. The old phrase ‘what you see is what you get’ may have reversed. What you get is what you see – but that’s not the full story.
People are increasingly not what you can ‘see.’ A digital footprint is too narrow, too flat to decipher the many faceted personalities creating peoples’ storylines. Attention span per post has decreased from minutes to seconds. Does it capture your essence?
The staggering growth of social media.
In July 2015 total worldwide population was 7.3 billion. In 2016 there were 2.3 billion active social media users with an average of 5.54 social media accounts. Instagram for example with 400 million users, and WhatsApp with 900 million users.
Snapchat with 100 million users is measuring active users per hour to get up-to-date statistics. They enjoy a very high engagement rate with over 65% of the users uploading content. (More about the statistics in Brandwatch.) For an advertising agency, the challenge is to capture an audience in average less than 3 seconds a view.
It is a fast-track, fast-food life inside and outside of our premises. And the risk?
We will not have the complete picture of what is happening behind the scenes. We act based on an impulse and instinct instead of intuition and knowledge.
Gaining perception to the texture of life.
If a tree falls, it will be left on the ground for birds to find living quarters and various insects to recycle the material over time. Nothing is wasted. The story of the forest remains preserved.
A storm that hits the forest leaves a trail of fallen trees behind. They are only cut to make way for the narrow hiking paths. Elsewhere they lie where they land.
There is no ‘photoshop’ to mend the impact. What seems like a chaos is the only way for many endangered species to find their perfect living conditions in the area. There are very little original and natural habitats for them to thrive in.
How much of original habitat do we leave for us?
Do we carve that natural, authentic space for our lives? Can we keep an original part of our personality flourishing without trying to smoothen the edges?
Life on earth offers us a texture unique from any other condition. A body that ages with time but learns each day how to survive. A heart that carries both physical and emotional responsibilities and learns to love despite all odds.
Texture often appears to be a random pattern. When we view textures from afar we begin to see shapes, and order, a path, a map. Something unique and yet part of a larger interconnection to other people, other lives, other textures, and patterns.
Authenticity takes courage. It takes strength to understand that we are here to learn. And the more we learn, the more we are tested in our capabilities to help others.
Embrace the original. Accept that life’s texture includes counter-weights. Good only feels good if you know what the other side looks like. It does not mean spreading negativity. It means trying to understand the truth in everything we experience. Social media can be a great source of understanding parallel realities and sharing higher lessons of life.