Media, and specially social media is a powerful platform for showing ourselves and advertising our skills and services. It can be a great way of communication; it’s usually fast, you can reach many people at the same time, you can reach people in other countries, it is not dependent on time and place. It has helped numerous individuals realize their dreams, it has made fund raising for voluntary work more easy, it has even enabled revolutions. When used right, it is a great tool for great things.
Unfortunately social media is also a powerful way of anti-socializing ourselves. When Internet contacts replace actual human contact, or when Internet fame replaces real-life achievements, things get murky. Fame is addictive and, when it is very easy to get (likes, shares, comments), it is sneaky. People don’t even realize how Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or some other SoMe start invading more and more intimate situations. I don’t know when exactly did it become socially acceptable to keep your smart phone on the dinner table or chat in Facebook at the same time as you talk to your friend, but the phone seems to have become an inseparable part of our everything.
I admit that I’m no better than most people in this matter. I don’t know if others are as bothered by it, though, as I am currently. I hope they are, and I hope you are. I’m challenging myself to let go of constant availability and to use the time I would use in Facebook for studying, dancing, meeting a friend or meditating.
What might be one of the difficult things in being offline, is that we miss things. We miss event information, birthdays, messages, meetings… It’s not nice to live “in darkness” and not know about things. But as we stay online, we also miss a lot of stuff. We miss some very real and human things. Today I would’ve missed the sight of two puppies catching snowflakes. I wouldn’t have spent five minutes of sitting still, listening to my body and letting my mind run free. I wouldn’t have spent nearly two hours stretching. I will gladly keep my phone on mute as I go see one of my best friends in order to have great conversation with her. There’s so much going on around everyone of us right now and we miss a lot of that by trying to catch everything on the Internet.
Of course I’m not saying that we should shut ourselves into a bubble and only pay attention to the immediate surroundings. But I’m looking for balance, at least in my own life.
As a dancer social media is great for sharing info about events and advertising yourself. Posting videos to Youtube is nearly a must nowadays and probably most people who come to events get the invitation in Facebook. But then there are dancers who post videos but never show up in battles, or who click “attending” and that’s all they do. There are people who are Facebook friends with pretty much every dancer in the world but who don’t speak a word face to face to anyone, dancers who write intense status updates and have strong opinions about the scene that they’re not actively part of and then there are Youtube commentators who criticize or applaud videos and think they know a lot without ever going to see those battles live. Some dancers think they’ve seen everything by looking at the videos from some events and what they don’t understand that a huge amount of dancing happens in between of the videos. There’s no videos from the parties or the cyphers or people jamming during the breaks. Watching a video doesn’t tell the stories of the dancers and it doesn’t actually let you learn about the dance and to have informed opinions. People who are active in the scene, who put in the time and money to actually be there and who really, really know about these things, are definitely not the most active Internet commentators. So to get a glimpse of their experience, you’ll have to be there too. And like a friend and mentor of mine has said, Internet gives everyone an opinion – even the ones that don’t really have one and don’t know how to have one about the current topic.
Internet and social media are great for inspiring. I won’t even start guessing how many kids nowadays start dancing because they see an awesome video. But learning from videos gives you a narrow view of what’s really going on and, in worst case, you’ll learn someone else’s style and moves without understanding why you do them. And again, no one there will tell you the stories and make you fully understand the beauty and power of what dance is about. To learn that, you’ll have to leave your phone to the cloak room and go dance with dancers, take classes, enter battles and forget about trying to be famous in the Internet. Social media takes time “for free” and in the end doesn’t give you anything back. It’s the people there too, that give you. But to be a part of the scene is so much better and more fun that it’s worth all the time, money and effort it takes, because the scene doesn’t just take but it gives too. So, to me, Internet and social media are like starting points but not more than that.