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The party is always somewhere else

  • Published at 12:00 am December 19th, 2018
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The allure of instant gratification and empty validation has never been more significant

Have you ever had that gnawing feeling at the back of your head that there must be something more -- not quite in the grander, existential sense, but in a more moment-to-moment context?

You could be sitting alone at home basking in the glory of your self-diagnosed, Instagram-worthy introversion, or be out and about genuinely having fun with friends and/or family, but the feeling always remains, compelling you more and more into believing that there’s a better time to be had out there … somewhere.

And everyone else is invited but you.

If any of the above drivel means anything to you, then congratulations -- you have been suckered by people much smarter than you to stay cripplingly dependent on the illusion of connection.

Now, I know just how passe it is to knock social networking for all the ills of (ironically) society, even though there is next to no evidence to such disgustingly wild claims. But one of the most common observations among those who, perhaps, rely on such platforms a bit too much, is just how much they hate themselves for being slaves to them.

With a sense of bitter defeat and self-loathing, some of my most social network-addled friends and acquaintances are always quick to express just how exhausted they are with the whole technology, yet can’t help but run past innumerable, endless feeds -- like a hamster in a wheel that’s developed a coke habit and yielded any semblance of spatial awareness in the process.

While the allure of instant gratification and empty validation had been established long before the current-day kings and queens of Silicon Valley stopped nursing, let alone learned how to write even one line of code, there is some truth to the claim that we are more prone to falling for these age-old traps now more than ever.

However, perceptibly, one of the single biggest issues the proliferation of social networking has brought with itself is an added layer of anxiety and neuroticism over the possibility of not being included in anything and everything.

There’s always some “event” that you’re missing out on by opting to go for another -- each of them offering endless possibilities for friendship, romance, further networking, and an infinite supply of cheap thrills. And simply showing up can often say a lot about you, from your sex appeal to your cultural significance.

But we all recognize just how unhealthy such obsessions are, as corroborated by numerous studies and research which we all end up sharing online but never really end up reading. And yet we choose to live with them.

But why is that?

Author David Foster Wallace, in his 1993 essay E Unibus Pluram, argued that America’s (and by extension the world’s) collective fascination with the television was that it gave us all a way to exercise our innermost voyeuristic traits -- what better way is there for a working stiff to unwind after a tiring day than to watch people make fun of each other, engage in fun private conversation, and have fun sex on-screen (all the better if the viewer happens to be allergic to real-life human interaction)?

Taking that argument into account, the next logical step would then be to replace “the actor” with “the friend” in all of the above situations. And as soon as the novelty of simply looking starts to fade, the desire to join the party eventually takes hold.

But that desire is seldom, if ever, met, as the party is always somewhere else -- regardless of where you are. 

Rubaiyat Kabir is an Editorial Assistant at the Dhaka Tribune. He can be followed on Twitter @moreanik.