The development of Social Media has really gone side-by-side with my life just like my cat who yesterday passed from old age and a failing heart. As with her, that which we may call social media entered my life one day and placed me in a nurturing position ever since (not that it hasn’t given me some joy in return). I couldn’t not care about it. Social media interacted with me, as I did with my cat, and that was OK. I’d miss it if I went without it for too long; kept checking on it, still do. You could that say it grew on me! And because it was relatively new like me cat was once too, who knew, it might have left me—just like the cat-door was always open for my cat to disappear on me at any time. And as with the never-ending updates in the world of social, as well as with the stock market going up and down as I’ll mention a bit further down… one adjusts their expectations along the way, right!?
Luckily, she didn’t go until she went and died. And I feel kind of as though she is the first “project” I ever truly completed; because I took her in from the street, tried to find out where she’d come from, then registered her as belonging to my family, cared for her, and most importantly; I never, ever, quit her. Her kidneys getting worse two years ago didn’t stop me from believing that she could get better – and she did! When finally her heart started giving up on her the other week (and she must have got to an age equivalent of some 100 human years), I thought; “She is the captain of that ship… I’ll just let her take command of its anchor now; I think she’s had a good tour.”—something like that.
Two months ago, Instagram began letting its users share up to ten photos or videos in one post, instead of just the one (Instagram Blog, 2017). I didn’t feel like sharing memories of my cat on there now in March. Neither to straight-up give a chance for the general public to comment on it, nor to exploit her last testimony of existence into some test of a new function to that app. Had she gone a little over two years back, when she got the kidney problems, there still would have been only room for square-shaped memories, as well; create your own collage inside that, or nothing (Instagram Blog, 2015). However, in the end I decided to put a collage up on my Facebook wall. I first put it together in a photo-editing app (note: there is still a choice of being offline and ‘anonymous’—as I perceive it—in the experimentation with this) on my phone (I have a feeling we’ll do everything for an audience soon). And soon after I got incoming teary-eyed emoji reactions from people I know from around the world. One of my class-mates—with whom I was studying for a poster-presentation at the time—was sitting next to me as some of these reactions reached me, as I said to her; “You know, had my cat died a few years back, the only reactions I would’ve got might have been likes. This really is more suitable.”
Today, my other friend in class asked me in person if my cat had died after having seen my Facebook post from yesterday. She smiled. “Um, why are you smiling?”, I said, “…yeah, she did.”, I went on. So my friend in class replied that she cares for others when their pets die; feels empathic. And it struck me that having seen all those emojis on the day before made me nearly forget what real human response may look like, although at first I had thought that those emoji-reactions were closer to reality than ever (I suppose that goes for cyber-space in 2017).
Friday, 31 March 2017:
“Digital immigrants”. A description of adults who don’t fully get the online slang and smileys. Great (Lindqvist & Thorslund, 2011, p. 35).
Leading up to yesterday, mom had actually tried calling me to let me know that the cat was taken ill. I didn’t hear it because I was showering, or something. She emailed me the whole story about what was happening, CC’d my brothers. Then finally sent a picture of my cat on WhatsApp, and that’s when I noticed, texted her back and said; “Everything OK with her?”, “Actually, no. I emailed you…”, mom replied back.
It was late, I opened my email by switching apps really quick. I chose to voice-message my boyfriend and attempt to hold back my tears there, instead of calling my mom back at this point. I knew that calling her would just lead to an extended sob. I had a “career day” to attend the next morning. If I could avoid puffy-eyes, I would. Mom and I then sent each other heart-emojis and our conversation came similar to what one would utter at a funeral for a good friend (these days when words still are able to co-exist with visual reactions in shape of emojis). And before I went to sleep I asked her to text me the next day, after it would be all over for my cat. I still haven’t talked to mom over the phone about this. The cat-funeral was supposedly late yesterday. Yet I know more than I ever knew from when my first cat passed, before I had ever owned smartphones, computers, or some robot dog; or whatever the kids get these days. My boyfriend sent me a couple reassuring voice-messages back from the New York subway on his way to an event. “Everything is going to be OK; you’re family is going to be OK, you are going to be OK…”, he kindly assured me, and to my relief I could go to sleep pretty efficiently despite all.
What we have these days is also “networked grieving”; in which funeral services now intersect with social media, and can help people express their grief online as well as plan it (Nansen et al., 2017).
Come to think of it, mom had said that she’d actually read online that the symptoms my cat had had signaled heart-failure, and I’d believed her. So had the veterinarian that later checked my cat before her passing (hopefully she used some techy-tool more than, like, Apple’s own Health app). But mom and I both put a lot of trust into Google. Perhaps more so me, because I’ve “known it” longer!? I’ve seen doctors Google symptoms when I was in a New York hospital with the flu once, so why shouldn’t the stuff on there be at least somewhat relevant!? My boyfriend also said he was going to a viewing the other week. I thought since he was searching to find a new apartment that he was going to an apartment viewing. I recorded him a chipper voice-message the next day; “Hey, hope your viewing went awesome, let me know!” He replied that he couldn’t go in the end but that he’d forwarded his condolences. Only then did I turn to Google and realize my mistake… this was a death-related viewing that we were talking about.
Friday, 31 March 2017:
“Lindqvist & Thorslund (2011, p. 18) discuss turning into the person you make out to be online as a risk, but what about making it a career?”
I can’t promise you that the person who is writing this will be the same person in two years from now when I graduate from university, but do I even want to be? I like this inquisitive mind of mine, and I’m going to keep feeding it with social media, as social is going to be fed by me and what some people might call my “content” (a.k.a. my life?) right here and now, and continuously so.
Acting taught me to take things really personally on stage, and simultaneously be more thick-skinned for the business-side of the job and industry. I suppose that’s also how I see the internet. Maybe just that I’m splitting my personality over different channels, like one should invest in Index funds and things, according to Tom Robbin’s new book “Unshakeable” (Robbins, 2017), and not be investing all into one single bet for the future. Simultaneously, as with the stock market, I’m investing my personality, my time, or my money (as in studying for this line of profession or related), with the knowledge that what I perceive as being private or anonymous might be the complete opposite; and that there will be a “bear market”. Meaning, things will go south at some point – but I just choose to prepare for those times and come out alive, instead of hiding from it all and actually losing with a perception perhaps of being “safe” and steady when that’s not really the case. Robbins mentions in his book that being outside of the market is your biggest loss. Being out of the social media game creates the same loss in my opinion, we just may not have the same expert advice on it yet to say that it is indeed a game that needs to be played, and someone to pin-point the advantages for each and every individual.
That’s when a film director yells; “Take a risk, do something—anything—but make a strong choice and stand by it!” And that is at least what I intend to do continuing forward with social media—basically; say hello to my “new kitty”!
Instagram Blog. (2017). Share Up to 10 Photos and Videos in One Post. [Online] Available: http://blog.instagram.com/post/157572774352/170222-multiple [2017-04-03].
Instagram Blog. (2015). Thinking Outside the Square: Support for Landscape and Portrait Formats on Instagram. [Online] Available: http://blog.instagram.com/post/127722429412/150827-portrait-and-landscape [2017-04-03].
Lindqvist, J. & Thorslund, E. (2011). Ungas integritet på nätet. 5th ed. [Online] Ödeshög: DanagårdsLiTHO, pp. 1-90. Available: https://www.iis.se/docs/Ungas_integritet_Ver2_webb.pdf [2017-04-04].
Nansen, B., Kohn, T., Arnold, M., van Ryn, L. and Gibbs, M. (2017). Social Media in the Funeral Industry: On the Digitization of Grief. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 61(1), pp.73-89.
Robbins, T. (2017). Unshakeable. 1st ed. London: Simon & Schuster UK Ltd.