When was the last time that you woke up and said ‘Wow, it’s good to be me’? How many times today have you looked at an Instagram picture or Tumblr post or a tweet and thought, ‘Damn son, if only I could be her, if only I had his money, her looks, his muscles, her body, his life.’? I do it. I do it almost everyday. As a generation who have witnessed first-hand the rapid transformation of technology changing our lives on a daily basis, remembering the excitement of creating a Facebook account after it had just been launched and checking every day after school of which of my friends had posted on my wall despite the fact that I had just seen them, to witnessing social media platforms such as Twitter and Instagram being introduced for the first time and watching how they quickly consumed our lives, became an important aspect for businesses and were soon incorporated into our hourly schedules. Checking our phones and news feed every hour for more updates and refreshing pages for more perfect pictures that often results in severe FOMO (Fear of Missing Out), we are so quick to wish ourselves out of our own shoes and jump straight into someones else’s.
Social media is a great and scary thing. It is a place where businesses thrive and have the power of connecting people from the furthest ends of the world. It is a way of uniting people together who once had nothing in common, it allows us to perve over our heroes, celebrities, sportsmen and women, keep tabs on our family and share with our friends. The down side is that social media often leads to a loss of identity. We lose our uniqueness to try and fit the ‘perfect’ mould when actually, a ‘perfect’ mould does and has never existed. We, us, society have created these standards of beauty, making it acceptable for 13 year old’s to think that they should find love before the age of 20 or else face dying alone with their cat Tabatha, and it is us who have created a society where going to a restaurant and seeing a whole family or couple glued to their phones no longer appears strange.
This whole idea of losing our identity came to me when I was looking through a women’s fitness motivation page on Tumblr and before my eyes I saw endless pictures of perfectly chiseled bodies with sweat beads that had been perfectly placed on their abs and forehead, neon pink Nike Air trainers and a tan so perfect that even Sofia Vergara would be jealous. I felt myself quickly drift into my dream world, ‘Oh wow, if only I could look like this. What I would do to get this chick’s body!’. Then I moved swiftly onto Instagram whereby majority of the people I follow are professional female surfers, celebrities and adventurers and once again I drifted even deeper into my jealous dream world as I examined the pictures on my screen showing surfers in tropical slices of heaven sent directly from the big man above. You know how it is; the perfect wave in the background, the best bikini I’ve ever seen until the next picture that gets posted a couple of hours later, hot weather, palm trees, a drop dead gorgeous hunk immersed in a barrel, coconut milk and fresh fruit and again I found myself thinking, ‘Sheesh man, imagine if I could have all that, these people are so lucky.’ Next I check my Twitter feed, and its more of the same thing. Perfection. Beauty. Adventure. The sad part is that this has all taken place before I have even got out of bed in the morning or looked outside to check if the world has not been destroyed by some apocalyptic evil cockroach and I am the sole survivor, until I find a dolphin who I befriend and we swim away and live happily ever after . This is how I, and I’m sure the vast majority of you reading this, wake up. Open eyes, check phone, start day.
This morning was different and here is why. I got up before the sun rose as I couldn’t sleep due to excitement of the new swell forecast to arrive mid-morning and my phone had no data or available wifi (hence why I didn’t check it). I got up, went through to the lounge, sat and drank coffee with my dad before he went to work for the day and watched the most remarkable sunrise. I sat with my coffee in hand, and just watched and listened as Cape Town began to come back to life. I watched the sky turn from black, to navy, to the most magnificent pink that lit up the entire ocean. I watched the seagulls gliding along the surface of the waves, I watched people start their day with a run on the beach and I watched a cleaner who started work at an ungodly hour sing and dance as she prepared for her long day ahead, earning little yet giving the world a smile and a dance to whoever noticed.
And with that, I completely forgot about my phone, my social life, social media or who did what while I was asleep. I put on my wetsuit, ran down to the ocean and had one of the best surfs I have had in a while with just two other people out. We all watched the sun light up the water as it began to get higher and in that moment, I was so content with just being me. There was no-one else that I would rather be, nowhere else that I would rather be and no-one else that I would have rather been with, except these two strangers in the water as we all surfed in silence and shared life’s little gifts that often go unnoticed.
I guess my message is that we are so quick to judge ourselves and those around us. People don’t get lucky, they create their own ‘lucky’ circumstances through hard work, sheer determination and real life sweat. Instead of wishing that you could become your idol in a the click of a finger, rather look up to them, be inspired and learn from them, but don’t become them. That’s boring. Rather put your phone down or laptop off and go and create your own luck. Or at least, for the love of Zeus, take time out of your day to find a little contentment and snatch a special moment, put it in your pocket and thrive off of it until you notice the next one.