When Did We Stop Making Memories?
Tagged recently to a new page on Facebook: Drummonds Nightclub. Photos/Memories.
It’s circa late 80’s early 90’s, a club no different to hundreds of others across the country but for us, Drummonds was where it was at. A lounge bar downstairs and a nightclub upstairs, both with dubious decor. Picture your gran’s living room, all floral’s, brown dildo rails (as my friend Cameron liked to call them) and mirrors, lots of mirrors.
Ask anyone local of a certain age about Drummonds and they will absolutely come over all nostalgic. Or that could be just the after-effects of a brain bleached by using way too much Sun-In or using an entire tin of Insette (not Elnett, that was way too expensive) purchased from the 99p Shop on a Friday after school. That stuff was lethal, it definitely helped punch a hole in the ozone layer. I thoroughly enjoyed looking at the photos, there in those images was the heart of many a misspent youth. So, after getting over the shock of how bad EVERYONE’S perms were (including my own) and just how many guys looked like Eugene from The Walking Dead, I had a thought.
Like a slap in the face, it struck me; how different the people looked, but not because ‘it was the eighties/nineties’. The difference was that these people were social media free. Like a 70’s porn star’s pubic hair, this was a full bush, the images were totally au naturale. Bygone days, straightforward point camera, smile and snap. This was long before a Kardashian and selfies fucked it up. Snapshots free from a desperate need for each to have a gazillion likes. All dodgy hair with sweaty faces. Bad angles, spare tires and not a contour insight. There may have been a fashion disaster or two, but what is clear from those photos is that nobody gave a fuck.
Today’s generation would baulk at the idea of a phone-free existence, to them it is inconceivable. It is all they know and it is depressing to think, they will never experience the joy of just being. The introduction of social media changed everything. Teenagers experience scrutiny and critique like no other, the pressure to conform is relentless. There is a myriad of factors relating to teenage mental health issues but social media must be considered a contributing factor. Sites such as Instagram and Facebook directly linked to increased levels of anxiety and depression in teenagers.
A generation at odds with the world around them. A 2016 survey for Parent Zone, showed rates of depression and anxiety among teenagers have increased by 70% in the past 25 years. The number of children and young people turning up in A&E with a psychiatric condition has more than doubled since 2009. In the past three years, hospital admissions for teenagers with eating disorders have also almost doubled. 93% of teachers reported seeing increased rates of mental illness among children and teenagers. 90% of teachers thought the issues were getting more severe.
I think the old photos shocked me, not because of the big hair and non-blended eye shadow rather that we are all just so used to looking at false perfection. Conditioned into accepting that what we see is real and true. Take away the phone filters and photoshop and we all still look like we did back then. But take one or five hundred selfies, filters will only hide so much. How many people on dating apps have had the shock of their lives when they meet they’re swipe? Wasn’t quite what they were expecting. It’s not just teenagers, one way or another we are all slaves to technology and adults are far from immune.
Wee story; a couple of weeks ago I decided to do #myhousethismonth on Instagram, a tag where each day you post a themed photo from your home. I lasted less than a week. Not being a fan of social media, I don’t know what I was thinking. Within a couple of days, I knew it wasn’t for me. In that short space of time, I definitely experienced feelings of anxiety. Continually checking my posts for likes, feeling pressured into liking other people’s posts without knowing a thing about them. Stressing about what to photograph next, worrying if it was a ‘good’ shot. My home is beautiful and I consider myself extremely fortunate yet it was terrifying how quickly I felt a twinge of dissatisfaction.
It was automatic for me to add a little story to each photo. We are big into our recycling and repurposing. Naively, I had hoped to connect with like-minded folk but it was clear very few people read the snippets. I found many of the other images contrived and even though I still complied, deep down I knew it was all bullshit. Nobody lives a Hygge lifestyle, not even Nordics. No one can buy content, you either are or you are not. If social media can induce feelings of inadequacy and discontentment in a savvy, forty-something woman, what must it be like for the youth of today? I was only comparing home interiors, imagine the enormity when its body image and social status? There is no lie in stating comparison is the thief of joy
Guaranteed, wherever you go and whoever you meet, they will have a phone. The mobile phone is now so intrinsically linked to our physiology it has become the matrix of our very being. It has been proven that every time we receive a ‘like’ on social media it creates dopamine high. Basically, the reward chemical, a rush of neurochemicals and it’s all happiness and contentment. But as with all addictions, the rush doesn’t last long and before you know it you are looking for the next hit.
Social media platforms are a modern-day Dr Frankenstein having helped to clone a generation of socially inadequate narcissists. Addiction makes one selfish, reflected in daily life in how little people interact. I’ve witnessed families out for a meal, all on their phones. Couple in a pub, both on their phones, what is the point of even going out? Folk out walking their dogs, well I say walking, more like standing still on their phone while the dog runs around aimlessly on a retractable lead. And I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve witnessed someone using their phone whilst driving.
I have teenagers and they scatter when I bring up the subject of their mobile phone usage. It may fall on deaf ears but it won’t stop me. I’ll keep nagging in the vain hope that perhaps something will change. Whilst having technology at hand is beneficial, we all pay the price for having it at our fingertips. I dread to think where society will be in fifty years. If I had a time machine I’d take this generation back to a time before social media, just for one day.
Back into those photos, when all you had to worry about was that you had enough money for a half cider and blackcurrant. And that just maybe, you’d get a snog.