I feel like it’s the right time to reflect once more on my love-hate relationship with the world we live in online. From the moment my eyes find daylight to the moment I close them shut, at some point, my fingers take me on a scroll through so many people’s stories I didn’t think I needed to know before.
It’s like strolling around the neighbourhood several times a day peeking through glass windows that aren’t my own. I get to judge each house, analyse, store in my mind and compare in relation to others by the few seconds I stand out there. Some, I go past without giving a second thought, others I admire so much that if I could pocket them, I would.
Some houses have stunning gardens at their entrance, the type that forces me to steal a second look as I fight to urge to take a quick shot, a souvenir to ponder upon when the marvel starts to fade away from memory. The fear that someone might pop their head out the window to ask me what I’m doing pushed me to go past, forward and on to the next.
Expensive cars are sat in front of some houses. It’s the kind I’ve never seen up close but walk past really slowly so I can observe as they give passersby postcode envy just being there. As I carry on I wonder if a life where I feel comfortable enough to make such a reckless purchase is in my future.
The cynical part of me slaps me back into reality quick, but I still think out loud ‘maybe I should get that licence – just in case, you know?’
Then there are those houses that stand alone. They are well kept and look like they’ve been on their feet for a long time now, but something about them feels lonely and heavy to the core. To me, it feels like many generations of sadness have probably survived the weight of those walls leaving me to wonder if anyone escaped the robust gate that separates it from the ‘others’. I wonder what it’s like to spend a lifetime in a castle, even the sad-looking ones, but then I hear the laughs…
As I let the abrupt cheerful noise guide me to a smaller yet brighter window on the other end of the street, I see it; a room lit up with joy and laughter – the rare kind.
I stand there a little longer.
This time, I don’t feel the need to capture the moment in a tangible memory, but I want to store it in a safe place in my heart. It’s the perfect picture that’s never taken and it leaves everything to be desired. The togetherness around the table, the passing of plates, the embarrassing stories told loudly of old times depicted on the walls, the aroma of bliss coming through the window. Now, I think simple will do and maybe I won’t be needing that fancy car after all.
Through the slight gap between the curtains in the opposite window, I see a girl sat on the floor right where the sunlight catches her bright eyes. The shadow by her side has run out of tears as it takes the shape of all the weight her shoulder can’t shed.
She looks up at the slowly fading light as it begins to set, gets off the floor and puts on a beautiful black dress. I continue to stare at her asking myself ‘what is she going to do next?’. She forces a wide smile and listens for when the camera shutter sound indicates it’s okay to stop.
She sits back on the floor and something tells me she’s going to stay there for a while longer.
It’s funny how many places you can explore and how many people you can meet without stepping a foot out the door. Every day, we go on new adventures through our phones and social media. We catch glimpses of the lives of the people we know well, those we admire from afar and those we’ve literally never met, then we create a perception of their lives in our head.
It’s a version that creates anticipation, expectations and a narrative to be fed constantly. Social media is just that, however; a peep through someone else’s window. You don’t get to see the whole house in its complex natural state or the moments that come after dinner time. You don’t get to see the fight out in the garden where all the flowers got crushed in an instant. The fancy car speeding away at 1.30 am is not something we witness as we fantasize passing the driveway.
ON SECOND THOUGHT, not sure if you need to hear this or not, but here’s a reminder for you and me that the stories we see on social media are never the full picture, but rather a glimpse of it. Your life won’t be perfectly filtered at all times. Life doesn’t have to constantly look like a perfect moment in time because that is simply impossible. There is more to life than fickle moments you catch through a little window.
Your reckless romantic roamer
Do you feel pressured to have it all together when you go online?