“Someone is always watching.” This phrase sums up the way young people live their lives. Many of them are so afraid of making a mistake, showing that they don’t know or allowing an unscripted moment to be seen because every instant a phone could live stream their missteps to the world. They live as if followed by a film crew. For them, and increasingly for everyone, having spectators watch our lives has become one of our highest aims. Learning a new skill only has value if it can attract a crowd.
It is this aim that hinders our freedom as much as anything else. When we play the game of trying to gain followers, likes of our posts etc. there is a specific role we must play because there are prescribed methods for marketing ourselves. We have to present an artificial version of ourselves, void of the uncertainties, insecurities and frailties that make us…well us. In this made up world, we exchange the depth of real life for shallow posts, commonsense for group think and truth for perception. Young people mold their lives in the hope of going viral or becoming famous. For us older folk, who the possibility of fame is less, we are content to fill this role for our circle of friends.
The flip side of this aim to grow a personal audience is choosing to be spectators of other people’s lives. If the most important value is to be seen, there isn’t much difference between what we do when no one is watching. So, we choose the easiest path and tune in or click in to other people a little better at the game. Here too, we have a specific role that guides and determines our actions without much individual thought.