I scrolled Facebook and Instagram for the first time in a while, having deleted their apps off my phone a few months ago in order to concentrate on my exams.
A friend of mine who I met in med school who I'd collaborated on music before with had gotten a boyfriend, that was cool. Another good friend is working on creating sports medicine related content, also really cool. Yet another is just tagging their friends on memes about being a weeaboo (I can relate), and another friend is certainly having a lot more wild of a time than I remember, laughing ferociously now in what he deems to be a happier life.
I look at one content creator I've never met who typically takes pictures in pretty places. I haven't seen her stuff in months - a girl who capitalises on a charming smile next to all the items she’s sponsored for - as she's clearly adapted to this quarantine time by, well, ordering food to her house and taking pictures with that instead, looking all very glamorous. Her smile and poses are well practiced, stereotyped across her own photo board that is Instagram.
You realise when you unintentionally unsubscribe from the people you know, they still continue living their lives without your observation. It's like the difference between a parent who watches their child grow gradually, and the auntie that sees them only occasionally and therefore interprets every yearly meeting as a bigger difference than the last. When you are subscribed to them - and by that I don't mean just the online state, but you legitimately watching them even if casually - their growth that you perceive is gradual.
...the way the world used to be was kind of more like how the auntie perceived those leaps and bounds, than the parent perceiving changes incrementally, wasn't it? Before we had social media, there was more of a distinct contrast between steps of life.
But rather than being passively subscribed to someone's life, who could you honestly say that you try to actively seek out? And then, what intersection of that circle in the Venn diagram intersects with the circle of people you actually care about? ￼
Then, after figuring that out, the question is: for the people that you care about that aren't in the intersection of people you seek out yourself...do you honestly, really care about them?
Sometimes the answer is, of course, yes — after all, you shared that one memory playing music with them, or they lived with you in the same dorm rooms for a while, or you guys studied together in the same library.
But despite caring for them, isn't it kind of weird that you might have absolutely no idea who they currently are? What their worries and fears are? Whether they're reaching their aspirations? Whether they're even happy?
In a world where passive communication is the default, if someone reaches out to you with no particular prompt, the fact that they're thinking about you would be meaningful. It wouldn't matter whether they're subscribed to you or not; you would still get that intangible and fuzzy feeling of warmth, if only for a brief flicker. And then, almost instantaneously, they're brought back into the intersection of people you care about and people you actually talk to.
Not having Facebook and Instagram, I realised that if I’m out of the loop when I come back to seeing people that I actually liked and the big updates they had...then how out of the loop must I have been when I had both of those platforms? The people who weren't algorithmically presented to me in an ultra convenient fashion...what was happening in their lives?
Maybe it was just the illusion of connectedness, after all. Proactively choosing which friends and family you subscribe to, on the other hand, seems achieving the opposite of that illusion.
After all, I guess to really care for someone is simply to show them that you do.