Remember those Monday mornings back in the day, when any mention of Weekend Update or of the latest Wayne’s World skit would bring about a long conversation, a closer bond to your classmates, regardless of whether you loved Adam Sandler? It was comforting, in a way. And yo, that #1 song on Sunday’s top 40 countdown? Remember that jam? The most popular kid and the most nerdy kid, we both knew that, for better or worse, Wilson Phillips’ “Hold On” came out on top that weekend and could at least talk about it, debate it. For those of us willing to dive a little deeper, we’d fall asleep to CBC’s Brave New Waves or manoeuvre our FM antennas to access that elusive, staticky college radio station from Buffalo, New York. And the beauty of that — when we found those other folks who made a similar effort, we knew we’d found a true soulmate. And even as much as we shunned the mainstream, we knew that the mainstream was there, and we were always aware, still participating, even if we didn’t admit to it publicly, because that’s what made the extra effort in finding our true callings seem so special. That centralized mainstream gave everyone equal footing: Be mainstream or at least recognizing it and feeling unique in own deviant cravings.
Now, communication has become such a bestial, byzantine, black-and-white affair. Some people exclusively consume Netflix. Some just listen to NPR all day. Some only attend events that are invited through Facebook. Some refuse to acknowledge anything but texts. Some sacrifice and shun one social media site in honour of their other favoured site — Twitter, Instagram, Google+, and now the Ello train. It’s either one or the other. We don’t have time to do everything, so we dive into what makes us feel good. There’s no standard, and some people think that’s great.
I, too, have a sparkly new Ello account, but my enthusiasm for posting on yet another site adds nothing but pure brain fatigue. I don’t know if it’s age or just not wanting to give a fuck, but as much as people complain about Facebook or one ginormous company having control of everything, for a short period of time in 2007–2009, it was nice having that one place where I knew everyone would be, no matter who they were. Since then, people have come and gone for various reasons, sometimes personal, sometimes political, sometimes for nothing but drama. As in real life, we all have to put up with the weirdos, the over-sharers, those who have a completely different worldview than ours, and worst of all, our own mental demons and inadequacies. But jeez, isn’t that how we learn, grow? Isn’t this conflict what life’s all about, learning to become self-aware and communicate intelligently, rationally?
With this endless supply of sites, apps, forums, are we all just control freaks living in giant bubbles of our own creation? Though we believe we connect to some people more, I’m personally feeling more separate from the wider world in general, less open of other types of people who stray from my vision, only because of this constant control.
I’m not all pro-Facebook or pro-any particular company grabbing a hold of our lives. Heck, I’ve been too busy lately to keep on top of everyone’s updates myself, but I like to know that when I do have the time and need an update, that there’s a good place to go and pick up again. I don’t care if it’s Facebook or the food court at Gerrard Square. I just miss the collective vulnerability, that sense of one-ness of a larger community, that knowledge of being on the same page come Monday morning.
Maybe I’ll start with streaming this weekend’s episode of Saturday Night Live. And even though we may all agree that it will be shitty, let’s do it for old time’s sake? XO