- 30 Apr 18
A 24 year old culchie from Ennis, Co. Clare, with a love of folk music, creative writing, and banjos, Josh has dedicated most of his life to these things. With qualifications in Music, Education, and English, he has been writing reviews, songs, and stories all his life, drawing influence and inspiration from the likes of Bob Dylan, Oscar Wilde, and Tim Burton. A regular performer with the National Folk Orchestra of Ireland, he believes banjos will save the world!
And now for Josh’s WRITE HERE, WRITE NOW entry ...
A man by the name of Ian Nolan died this morning for the lack of a better life. Upon examination, his online presence was immaculate. He had a loving family, a dream job, beautiful children, and took several expensive and luxurious holidays each year to exotic destinations around the globe. He was strikingly handsome, uniquely intelligent, and his opinions were strong.
He was lucky enough to have a very specific group of 837 friends who knew him well and engaged with him weekly. He was well respected and appreciated. He was an avid photographer, an amateur filmmaker, and a keen lover of Indie Culture. Visiting the gym twice a week, he maintained a (mostly) healthy lifestyle, excluding the odd weekend binge with friends and colleagues. His wife loved him very much and expressed it publicly on a regular basis. He didn’t want for anything, and his social status was enough to make any man jealous. By all accounts, he maintained a perfect, serene, existence.
On Monday morning at approximately 9.34am, he stepped in front of an oncoming train in Powell Station, San Francisco, and his serenity came to a sudden, unfortunate end. Logging into the 'Spirit' WIFI in heaven that evening, he noticed that he had received 49 messages of condolence on his Facebook page that would never be read by mortal eyes. He also had 2 Farmville requests that he now, sadly, would never fulfil. After all his hours of hard work building his virtual farm, it saddened him to think of it falling into disrepair. He silently hoped his wife would maintain his pumpkin patch.
Alongside these notifications came 32 friend requests from curious strangers, and 15 from old acquaintances who suddenly wished they had worked harder to keep in touch. Had our antagonist still been alive, he would have laughed at their meagre attempts at instant gratification. Their lives hadn’t touched or affected his in years, and it should be no different in his death. Regardless of this, he would have been proud of the growing number of notifications in his inbox. He had never been so popular before. In hindsight, he may have regretted his actions.
Meanwhile, on Earth, the man’s widow was dealing with her own growing number of notifications. However distraught she may have been, she knew it was necessary to maintain a brave face on social media. Her new profile photo would paint the picture of love and grief to her 764 friends – a photo from 2 years ago in Munich – the day he proposed. They couldn’t have looked happier. She laughed through broken tears as she hit ‘post’. It was clear he wasn’t happy even then. The note he left behind that morning was still open on the desk in front of her. It saddened her to see how little he valued all the good things that they shared.
In comparison to successful people who he would never know, he just felt incomplete. He spoke of his brother’s perfect life in Australia and all his wonderful online posts and stories. He spoke of so many other millennials of his own age who had achieved so much success and financial prosperity in such a short time. He spoke of his own ambitions and impatience at the world for not giving him the opportunities that others on social media have so clearly achieved on a daily basis.
He spoke of a lack of confidence, and of his online presence – the face he turns towards the world, that everyone sees and expects of him – being so far removed from his true existence that he had lost himself within its exaggerations and rose-tinted bliss. The man had lost his identity and self-worth within the digital world he created for himself, as many do, and no matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t get it back. He lost himself within a world of constant comparisons to other people’s digital, self-created personas, and couldn’t find his way out of the digital maze. His widow posted her final message and deactivated her account. She didn’t intend to return to that world anytime soon.
Meanwhile in heaven, Ian Nolan logged out of his 'Spirit' social media accounts and gazed upon the world as it truly was. He saw the people and the lives they lived in all their imperfections, and immediately regretted his decision. He saw their challenges and hardships, the troubles they deal with outside of the digital world – their true faces, pointed away from the public eye – and he realised that we all lead similar lives. We all face challenges and hardships, and everyone must contribute to the world in the best way they can, regardless of religion, race, or financial status. It didn’t matter who obtained more likes on a profile photo when entire families were struggling to pay their monthly rent. He grimaced and a lonely tear fell from his eye as he realised the things that should truly have meant the most.
"Wake up Ian. You're back in the room."
His eyes opened and he found himself back on Earth, flat on his back on a leather couch. A beautiful red-haired woman was sitting across from him. She wore black large-frame glasses and spoke gently. “Mr. Nolan, how do you feel?” He looked at her, dazed for a moment, and sat upright holding his head. “I feel… good. Better than I’ve felt in a long time actually.” The woman smiled. “This is your last hypnotherapy session in my practice, Ian. I think we’ve made a breakthrough. I’m glad you made such a big step in coming here, because it’s really made all the difference.” Ian Nolan gazed at his therapist with admiration, proud of his progression over the last 3 months. Hypnotherapy and CBT had cured him of any doubts. However bad he had felt about his situation, he now knew that it was far from disastrous. “I think deleting your social media has played a big part in your recovery, Ian. I’m glad you’re here to tell the tale.” Ian smiled. “Me too, Dr. Chatham.”
On leaving the practice, he decided to take the scenic route home. Walking via Lands End, he came across a group of students arguing over who could take the best selfie with the Golden Gate Bridge and found himself laughing. He picked a flower and put it in his shirt pocket. Life was good, and he didn’t need to prove himself to anyone else, let alone a world of digital Avatars loosely based on human lives. He hummed a Beatles tune gently as he continued homeward, towards a life no longer riddled with self-doubt and jealousy. Things were changing for the better. When he arrived home, he was going to re-activate his account and post a very strongly-worded status about the negative effects of social media on mental health, and encourage everyone to share it extensively. Yes, life was good. And he was going to spread the word...
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