Shubnum Khan wonders whether she's aged out of trying new social media platforms.
At some point in my early thirties I started to fall behind.
I didn’t want to keep up with technological and social advancements. I found myself hesitating to download the video-sharing app, Tik Tok despite its wild popularity even amongst my peers.
Is this, I thought, the point where I start to get old?
In the past I’d been quick to join the latest social media app and then I’d plan the perfect post, video or Q&A for platforms like Facebook, WhatsApp, or Instagram. But lately I find I just don’t have the energy to choose a photo, edit it, and think up words for the perfect caption. I’m not interested in finding the best font or filter, or using the right hashtags. And I can understand if it were happening because I’m terribly busy, but I’m not. I just don’t want to do it anymore.
I’m beginning to wonder; am I just learning a healthier lifestyle, or is it just because I can’t keep up and I’m getting older? Getting, ugh, slower?
So now I worry I’m falling behind. It’s so easy to fall behind when you’re just trying to keep up, and in this age of advancing technology and always changing hot-topics (ever had to scroll through your feed endlessly to figure out the current joke or debate?) if you even pause for a moment, you fall so far behind that it’s almost impossible to catch up. But I just can’t muster the strength anymore. I would rather read a book or walk outside or have a conversation with a friend than scroll through a feed of tiny photos looking for the perfect one that encapsulates the ultimate mix of background, light and color. So I’m beginning to wonder; am I just learning a healthier lifestyle, or is it just because I can’t keep up and I’m getting older? Getting, ugh, slower?
I worry that these small things I’m letting go of are going to pile up and now that I don’t know how to use Tik Tok or the latest updates to Instagram (I left Instagram for a break and now there are reels and music clips and filters I don’t understand how to use anymore), I won’t know what’s happening, and it’s going to be easier and easier to not know, and then I’m going to be that person who says, “Oh I don’t know all these new-fangled things,” or hash tagging my videos with #cantkeepupwithtechnology (as if acknowledging my limits makes it any less mortifying).
In just a few years am I going to turn into my parents, asking anyone who will listen how to connect to the WIFI, how to send a contact over WhatsApp, or how to use my wireless headphone? Surely it was only a few years ago when I knew exactly how everything worked on my cell phone?
In just a few years am I going to turn into my parents, asking anyone who will listen how to connect to the WIFI, how to send a contact over WhatsApp, or how to use my wireless headphone?
Is it getting too complicated and annoying and soul-sucking, or is it just me?
I want to say I don’t care, that this simple life is better, and I feel a peace I was losing, but I know I’m moving further away from a world I need to be in touch with to survive. I’m a writer. I need to know what’s happening, what the latest cultural references and technological advancements are – my job is to keep a finger on the pulse of society. And I’m single and an introvert who works from home – so I need to have access to a thriving community in order to connect with people. Yet the divide keeps getting bigger and faster, and how do I keep up? I mean I’m not that old. I’m only 36. Many of my peers still work hard on curating their perfect social media profiles, updating their Insta feeds, Facebook status and posting relevant video content on YouTube and Tik Tok.
In sudden fits of fear, I grab my nieces or nephews and ask them what’s the latest thing; the fads, the gadgets, the music, the apps, the slang, the latest cause, the things I should know to keep me hip, woke, aware – young!
I still feel like I’m young, but the world, the way it moves now, makes me feel older than I am. I’m exhausted with trying to keep up.
So is this the point where I fall behind?
Find a new place that’s not in the race ahead? It sounds awful to me but perhaps it’s not. Perhaps, this is the point where I pause to finally take a breath and watch the future move ahead of me, and the past move behind me, and stay still to figure out my place in it all.