Auto-Focus

The 20s are all about putting yourself out there. In this age of limited privacy and the glaring exposure of people's lives, to control your image is an immense task. It's a struggle to make sure that the world sees you for who you are, or at least who you want it to think you are at least. It's a battle to be represented not only in actuality but benignly. Your information, history, and multimedia snapshot are constantly being edited, photoshopped, and filtered by more than just you. Who are you behind the screen names, airbrushing, and chat speak? Don't worry it's auto-focusing. 
Reaching for a cell-phone and hitting record instead of dialing 911 or calling for help; some say that is the epitome of the downfall of our digital age. I say it's the lack of distinction between reality and curation. Life has become voyeuristic - lived vicariously thorough screens, messaging, and manipulated images. It's more than losing touch with humanity. Everyone has begrudgingly read an article or watched a viral manufactured video of how people have ironically disconnected from one another only to be constantly be doing the opposite digitally. This is about the inability to distinguish between the lives people pretend to lead online and the ones they actually live. It's finicky since the former is inseparably part of the latter and vice versa. Through all the blurs, blemish removals, and adjustments, people become this overexposed version of themselves. Whether that's a good or bad thing, depends on whose lens you're looking through. It's constantly auto-focusing.
 
White numbering on a red circle have become the most important symbol known to man. Notifications that someone has interacted with you or rather your profile. Nothing may ever be more enticing. On a regular weekly basis I receive friend requests, follows, and requests from obscure strangers, acquaintances, and mutual friends alike. Often when people see in me real life they mention my social media presence as if it's its own entity. He's the practically perfect, impeccably dressed, and incredibly well-spoken version of me that does not exist. I wonder if they like who they perceive me to be through my portrayal of myself better than the actuality of the tangible me. Sometimes it's like they're disappointed with me they can touch. According to them I photograph well, have a way with words, and know everyone - or rather I ensure that only appealing photos of me are uploaded/tagged; edit painstakingly; and am easily remembered/discoverable. It's as if they believe the hype, the persona, and the air about me. The question remains, is that not me regardless of it's verisimilitude? Doesn't auto-focus take a picture of the same subject but it just so happens to be the best one. There may very well not be a clear answer.
 
Spending a day off of social media without meaning to do so ended up being profoundly significant. It took me a while to have prayer become the first thing I did after I awoke after I realized somehow it had become checking my phone. My usual Saturday morning lackadaisical lounging was cut short after I realized after some grade-A snapchat Boxcar Children level sleuthing that my friend Max would be arriving at my apartment within a half hour. There I went in a flurry on a mission to keep up appearances complete with a timer cleanup session a la Big Comfy Couch. Spraying, scrubbing, and wiping I went before showering and dressing furiously with minutes to spare. Just like I had always wanted to come off in the manicured facets of my life the same applied to my daily life. Auto-focus has a way of showing you off in the best light.

There's something about devoting an entire day to being with another person that shows you things about all parties involved. Video games - button mashing, screen-flashing, scream erupting video games bonded Max to me. With pizza ordered, gummy bears to share, and nonstop flow of juice we gamed for hours on end. It was one of the best days I have ever had, plain and simple. We'd only hung out a handful of times but being able to talk candidly, be comfortable, and show the not so picturesque yet vastly more memorable sides of ourselves was nothing short of epic. So few people have ever had me for that long of a sustained time and I'm telling you it makes a huge difference. Instead of worrying about how I looked or how I was showing up, I was just happy to be, ya know? It was so simple but so much fun. Without the constant inundation of dings, vibrations, and emojis I had the best picture of myself. And to think I was doing Max a favor in letting him crash before the residence halls opened when in reality it him who reminded me that the crystal clear auto-focus truth of me doesn't need a flash, it's a real person with flaws, shortcomings, quirks and all.
 
Even in saying that's who I am, I realize that all the other parts of me, the ones that are usually on display are nonetheless still part of me. I am self-conscious, nervous, and awkward just as much as a I am facetious, calculating, and deliberative. As I am selfless, compassionate, and courageous, I am also selfish, cold, and fearful. With my humility comes my vanity. I guess you have to learn to focus on the best parts of you instead of trying to pretend the worst won't always be just another part of you. I'm not perfect no matter how much it seems that I am, and I'm okay with that, can you be?

These days are ones I want to be filled with the fun, optimism, and comfort of my social media-less day. I want to give people a headshot of me with the realistic auto-focus rather than the edited ideal that gets put on the interwebs. I plan on cutting back on my social media a bit. I guess that means living in the moment more, focusing on liking myself as is and forgetting making everything seem flawless when it's really not. My life is good. I'm good. I'm well. That's what there is to focus on.
 
My blog post question for the day is ... what's your favorite throwback video game? It has to be Super Smash Bros. Melee - that game was everything and more to me like I can't even explain.

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