By: Edinah Masanga

Writing about Aristotle’s poetics Malcolm Heath wrote that Aristotle contended that “human beings are by nature prone to engage in the creation of likeness, and to respond to likeness with pleasure”. A powerful premonition of the current society by a great philosopher.

Aristotle is saying we are inherently spectators but derive pleasure only from observing the familiar. And, in modern-day society, which greatest spectators arena do we have that can surpass social media. Here we create and observe likeness.

But, whose likeness? Because according to Jessica Stillman, social media is hardly either a true or honest representation of one’s life. She contends that “the more miserable you are, the happier your social media posts“.

Which confirms what I have always thought: On social media, it is typical of people when in the midst of strangers, to want to display a life that’s not really theirs. It is why social media is popular because it allows people to capture moments that they paste together, days apart, to paint a picture that only exists in that manner, jagged.

Social media is the fulfillment of Aristotle’s prophecy. We watch our friends’ posts and the next moment we are maybe in our search engines searching for the same type of dress.

The more our social media feeds are filled with superficial lives, the more we find them pleasurable and endevour to recreate them.

While social media, for all its ills, also helps us foster meaningful relationships, we should strive not to model our lives around these connections.

I believe that to know someone in all their beings – social and everyday – is to truly know their life. Thus, the jagged lives that we all post on social media should be something to run after unless if it is something that will improve one’s standing in terms of their goals and aspirations. If it is just to be like that person or that friend, I find it hardly worth striving for.

I also hope that we will make space for those who want to say something to say it without the weight of our judgements. Also, no, people who are excellent at something do not come pre-programmed for the absence of flaws. I find it obscene that exceptionally gifted people are also expected to be flawless. As if excellence is in some ways a precursor to perfection.

It is all tiring.

2022 should be a year of rebellion. We should reject any and all of this. The neat small boxes where we must fit in in order to please those around us. We should dismantle them.

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