“Then he wakes and he’s in a place where there’s just wind and waves and light, and the intricate machinery that keeps the flame burning and the lantern turning. Always turning, always looking over its shoulder.” (Stedman, 2012)
I have several former high school classmates who document their entire lives on Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat. From detailed images of their morning routines, their midday renditions and their nighttime rituals, I, and their other friends are never not informed about the vast mechanisms of their lives.
In 2008, when I first joined a social media platform, the profiles were simple and filled with updates about the various online games we were all playing together. I remember the first time that Facebook updated: gone was the simplicity that I was just beginning to love and the chain reaction of updates and changes and changes and updates that followed reminded me of Apple’s iPhones and the seeming inability to enjoy one’s new iPhone fully before another newer, more “sophisticated” one unveils itself and glides into our consumeristic global market. Indeed, it is becoming increasingly difficult to keep up with technology’s rapid pace and advancement: a new smartphone application is created every day – possibly every twelve hours – social media platforms are continuously evolving to make their users’ experiences more “alive”, more streamlined, more interactive, just more.
More is a prominent want in today’s global culture: everyone is seeking for more of something: more food, more money, more love, more power. Just more. Mind you, wanting more is not to be frowned upon, not in the least: it is the way in which someone acquires that more, and how he/she utilizes that more, that is the basis for frowns and disapprovals
In the novel Super Sad True Love Story, most every character is in search of more of something: Lenny wants more of a youthful appearance; he wants more of Eunice, more of her love. Eunice wants more money, more clothes, more security, more love. As they pursue (or attempt to) their more, they are constantly being bombarded by the technological temerities of their time and culture: each of their äppärät screaming all there is to know about their lives. Like us, Lenny or Eunice have not a choice on what personal information is laid bare for the world to see; if they do have a choice, it is in very minute proportions. Lenny’s health history is there for the world to ridicule, if they so desire: Eunice’s extravagant expenditures aren’t confidential information and that is just a small shard of the glass globes of information available to everyone in their world.
“We are now part of this giant machine where every second we have to take out a device and contribute our thoughts and opinions.” (Shteyngart, 2010)
Noah, Lenny’s friend, is the embodiment of the above quote. He lived and breathed his Noah Weinberg Show and quickly became frantic whenever his viewer load dipped. He, Noah, was determined to livestream every second of his night out with his friends, while prompting them, to contribute their thoughts and opinions to his viewers. He, Noah, was also keen to partake in FACing and to squeeze every, single personal information from his friends, information that still (for now) remained only in their individual minds. All this is not partial to Lenny’s world but it is very prevalent in our present contemporary culture: many vlog, blog and other social media platform users cut their little slice of the World Wide Web and use it to say all that they have to say, every day.
“Losing hits, losing hits.” (Shteyngart, p. 93)
Losing hits, losing hits is the cry of many in today’s contemporary culture. While I have reduced my visibility on my social media platforms by my infrequent posting, I am still visiting most of them every day, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest being the three Big Ones. I am sometimes ashamed that I see so much of my friends but they see so little of me but that is another story for another day. The most intriguing moments that I see are when some of my friends would go the extra mile to ensure that they do not lose hits: scheduled posts, heavily photo-shopped images, graphic images, etc. My sixteen-year-old cousin schedules her posts and never posts an image where even one strand of hair is displaced. Not a strand out of place, says she.
Here I lay bare my amazement at how far we have come in our usage of this time that we call technological.
I wonder: just how much farther are we to go?
Shteyngart, G. (2010). Super Sad True Love Story. New York, New York, United States of America: Random House Trade Paperbacks. Retrieved March 8, 2017
Stedman, M. (2012). The Light Between Oceans. New York, NY, United States Of America: Simon & Schuster. Retrieved March 8, 2017