What I experienced?
I am living in what I call the “age of Instagram”.
I am someone you might say has fallen victim to the imprisoning “Instagram aesthetic”. That is, I have a strict persona I strive to live up to, largely looks-wise, not only in real life, but on social media. Living in the “age of Instagram” has its perks. I feel like keeping up this persona has made me a better business-person. I feel like, because of it, I am more effectively able to envision and communicate my intentions with others. However, like any other digital platform, living in the “age of Instagram” has its pitfalls. Maintaining my “aesthetic” has turned my entire life, in a way, into a social media-revolving game. I plan my outfits around it. Find new coffee shops to study in around it. And I can’t post too frequently, or too little. It consumes a much larger part of my mind than it probably should, truth be told.
HiFi/WiFi/SciFi couldn’t have come in a timelier manor. Though the digital revolution is nothing new, with every passing year not only is new technology released but it increasingly takes control of my life. And though I continually encourage its development, at the same time, I worry that it all might be just a bit too much.
From the first moments of HiFi/WiFi/SciFi, it was apparent that we were not supposed to shut down our displays. We were welcomed (with a smile and a few words of encouragement) to keep our phones on and take photographs and video throughout. This didn’t confuse me – AMAZING, I thought, the look of this space totally matches my aesthetic! (this is an actual thought that buzzed through my mind, I wish I was kidding). However, as time went on, it didn’t take much for me to realize the contradiction.
HiFi/WiFi/SciFi takes a look at the world of technology and ponders its utilities throughout the past, present, and future. And though we are so dependent on technology today, the show does not hesitate to remind one that the future of technology isn’t necessarily solely the happy-go-lucky concept of hover cars and personal robot assistants we see on film or in EPCOT. "Why encourage me to use my phone," I mused, "when you just told me that I spend too much time looking at my screen?"
I was lucky enough to take a great group of girls to see this show with me, all of whom are from diverse backgrounds. Some are in my sorority and studying psychology and rarely see theatre, while others lived on the same dorm floor as I did Freshman year and study Stage Production and Design. They are each very smart, politically active, socially conscious human beings who know enough to realize the destructiveness of technology in conjunction with its aids. And yet, when my friends knew they were allowed to use their devices, they hardly hesitated (nor did I). We thought it was harmless – and in a way, it was. But, fraught with all the contradictions, why were we so told that filming was ok?
Post-performance, we collectively spent a great deal of time reflecting on our immediate reactions. We picked up on the subtle messages of relevancy to today’s political climate, and fervently argued back and forth about what aspect of the show was our favorite. Though not nearly the most intricate or profound moment of the performance, one portion that seemed to stick with my friends and me was seen in the very final moments. There, an older man recalled the days where not “everyone in Starbucks (was) on WiFi”, and his local diners didn’t seem like sci-fi. Regardless of the fact that my (our) generation, as a whole, is all too aware that “things were better in (insert name of someone above 50)’s day”, we felt poorly (and maybe I’m just speaking for myself, but I always feel poorly when I truly reflect how much time and effort I put into my phone). Suddenly, the photos we had just taken throughout the performance’s duration felt like a distant memory. But no fear - by the time we had ventured back to our designated subway stop, we were all back on our phones like nothing had happened.
It’s so interesting to me to see how in tune we are with one another, despite at the same time being so far apart (this day and age). We spend hours on end together and yet gauge our comfort level with one another on how comfortable we feel sitting in each other’s presence saying nothing and looking at our phones instead. We come together to make movements and yet we find it difficult to shout our opinions from our mouths rather than typing them through our fingers. I admit that I am a culprit of this. HiFi/WiFi/SciFi reminded me that technology isn’t the perfect companion it has been made out to be. To me, the show depicts how the future is truly now, and though we are still social beings who yearn for contact and other stimuli, we are not who we once were. It’s a delicate balance, which could be thrown off at any moment.
“We are the world, the world is one world. And each joy is our joy. Each birth is our birth.” In a world where people consistently tweet “going to take a social media break for my mental health”, yet return two days later to the lure of validation only likes can provide – or can it? – would it be so wrong to denounce this technological progression, even if just a bit? On the one hand, we “need it to survive”. On the other hand, in the “age of Instagram”… do we really?
What did you experience?
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