In the past two weeks, I have locked myself out of more-or-less every email, social media, work, and personal online account I own. Not entirely on purpose, obviously. Rather, these things happened, and sometimes I would leave them locked, keys lost, important passwords gone, for days. Somewhere in transit I let my iPod die, and noticed I had not brought a charger, and could not turn it back on. Finally, I took this as a sign, and stopped trying to rescue the thing, said goodbye to texting, instagram, even listening to music while walking.
Already, before I even left, I'd set my email on vacation mode, in hindsight in rather passive-aggressive terms. I'm not entirely proud of that, but I'm also not entirely ashamed of it either.
For a while now, I've been meaning to write about my conflicted relationship with social media, and its ever-increasing bias towards images, witticisms, personal brands, flame-wars, memes, sharing, and reacting rather than considering. Is it worth participating in at all? What is the value of this near-instantaneous connection to all the world, all the time? Am I participating in something, or simply creating content?
The answers to those questions will have to wait for another time, or maybe forever, but here's what I've "learned" from all this so far:
When you're traveling your eyes are wide open. You notice small, ordinary things in a way you normally wouldn't. These things strike you as funny, absurd, tragic, they are imbued with meaning beyond meaning, suddenly, they are potent with symbolism. Events, objects, buildings that might strike you as ugly, boring, or even depressing as a part of your daily grind gain special powers in the eyes of a traveler. They can become beautiful, magical almost.
And there is almost no better medium for small observations than social media. What I've missed the most at times, is having an excuse to make small videos, or take pictures of something that uniquely sums up something about my experience here. Instead, I have written them down in notebooks, stored them in the imperfect banks of my memory. It is comforting, I suppose, to know that this urge, to store, to frame, to capture, in me is at least in part, artistic.
I'm reminded again, that I like keeping secrets, that things hidden are sometimes more valuable to me than the things that everyone knows.
So here we are friends, you and I, somewhere in the middle of the wilds of Finland. Outside the window snow-dusted birches pass by. Lone pines stand on hills in the middle of vast clear-cuts. Boys in army uniforms, too young to shave, heading home on Easter leave ride the train, finding seats where they can. Three magpies sit atop three scraggly spruces like Shakespeare's witches. The most #cabindreams cabins of all time, peek red and inviting through the trees, pushing smoke up from their chimneys to the gray skies. The train pulls slowly into a station. No one is waiting for it. No one gets up to leave.
Thank you for traveling with us today. We hope to see you again soon.
(Ps. The original title of this post was "All The Fucks I Ever Gave About Social Media". I think I'm going to save that for one of my less poetic days.)