There’s a T.S. Eliot quote that never stops doing the rounds on the most-popular-with-sixteen-year-old-girls-desperate-to-collate-and-chronicle-their-hormones-and-favourite-Kardashian-shots of all social media platforms, Tumblr, that reads: I have measured out my life with coffee spoons. The quote itself appeals to my inner Tumblr’er, despite the fact I’m unaware of how a coffee spoon differs to, what I’d refer to as, a little spoon. Is a coffee spoon a tea spoon? Are they one and the same? Regardless of caffeine confusion, I fervently reblogged the image back in 2k12 after thinking ‘huh, neat quote’, heart’ed a few booty shots and closed the lid on my built-like-a-brick-shithouse laptop before it finally cut off circulation in my legs; content that anyone perusing my Tumblr would be impressed and intrigued (in equal amounts) by how cultured, deep, wise and ass-appreciative I appeared to be. A porny enigma. Wise and kinky. Witty and materialistic. Obsessed with fur and the female form. Someone who could appreciate both Charles Bukowski and ‘Jurassic Pug’ tees. I was that girl. Still am. Minus the obsessive Tumblr’ing.
I digress. What resonates most with me today, having recently been reminded of the quote (you can read the original poem here, it’s really quite nice), is how we *now* measure our lives. On the most literal level it feels as though we’ve shifted from the tangible to the untouchable. Our lives are no longer measured in spoonfuls, in mouthfuls, in conversations, in experiences or in relationships; they’re measured in Likes. We’ve surrendered ourselves to social media. We’re in the business of experiencing things, only to chronicle them through the most appealing filter. We’ve even ran scientific tests to find out which filter will get our chronicled experiences the most Likes!! (Rise, Valencia or Sierra, FYI; absurd yet enlightening). It was on holiday recently that this most bizarre of concepts – in which we set aside reality in order to perpetuate a constructed idealistic semi-reality – became most obvious and counter-productive. My boyfriend began to get irate, annoyed at my inability to live in the moment: “Stop photographing it and just fucking LIVE IT, Daisy!” being his most used phrase (he wasn’t complaining when I photographed his arms in all their beefy glory, mind you). I was there. I was there with the beautiful sunset and the beautiful man and the beautiful skirt and the beautiful squid ink linguine, yet that wasn’t enough. I had to capture it. I had to chronicle it. I had to collate it into an album of consistently bright and vivid photos that strangers could then peruse and be safe in the knowledge that my life was bright and vivid, too. At best, I was freezing beautiful moments in time and cultivating a cracking feed, at worst I was disregarding my relationship in order to impress a bunch of virtual strangers. And I realised that social media is like a vacuum: it relentlessly sucks us in and spits us out, inflating our egos before rapidly bursting our balloons and watching us abashedly gather the remnants as fast as possible, for fear of being seen to be unliked. Uncool. Unwanted. Unvalidated. And it’s all nonsense, really; it’s social media gone mad(ia). URL vs IRL. Filters create a facade. Likes don’t equate to living. Comments don’t represent real relationships. We all know that, right? Right. Problem is, it’s too easy to get sucked in: to feel as though our own experiences aren’t validated unless someone else likes them or, at the very least, has seen them. And it stops us just *enjoying* them, existing within them. We’re too preoccupied with digital paraphernalia to appreciate the moment unfolding before our very eyes; ’cause you can bet your bottom dollar our eyes are facedown in a bag, scrambling for our iPhone before the natural light dissipates and the shot isn’t half as Instagrammable. It creates this kind of never-ending circumvolution in which we seek out moments, only to capture them and relive them through the eyes of the viewer. It’s really fucking weird. But – hold up – sharing can be a joy! We’re all so instantaneously connected and it’s fucking awesome! Revelling in the relatability of other humans (‘I’ve been there!, ‘I’ve done that!’, ‘I remember that beach!’) or finding pleasure in the yet-unexperienced and unattained (‘NEED those shoes!’, ‘That place is a dream!’); it’s a digital double-edged sword.
I haven’t really got a solution, to be perfectly honest with you (and I’m nothing if not honest with you; my sex posts confirm this), except for backing the fuck away from time to time. Set your iPhone aside. Turn Twitter off. Shut Facebook down. Give yourself a break from the otherworldly and unnameable anxiety that takes hold when you post a photo and five minutes later it has zero likes. What matters the most, more than anything, is that YOU like it. You lived it. You liked it. You liked it so much that you shared it with the world. Does the world reciprocate? Who gives a shit.