The Game No One Can Win

The Game No One Can Win
Image generated by DALLĀ·E 3, inspired by a quest for an unwinnable game.

Growing up there was a kids named Chessington Fairbank (his name has been changed for the story) and this kid was a fast runner, the fastest in our grade. One would think this would mean he would simply excell in the PE (Physical Education) classes, but that was not the case. He was granted hero status and had an army of young boys around him admiring his every move.

I went to primary school with this guy and we were not friends. We were not enemies by any stretch of the imagination, I think his older brother was friends with mine (but who wasnt' - that is a story for another day) but my social rank within the school did not get through the many gatekeepers that was installed before I could even talk to him. I am not sure if I was the most unpopular kid in the school but I was close.

This only bothered me until I went to a high school (secondary school for the Americans) and he and his friends followed. There he amassed a even bigger following on kids from other school that have combined and realised he was the Alpha Male. Did I mention he was good at football as well. Unlike last time, instead of sitting on the outside looking in, I started a resistance. I found a group of disenchanted young men who didn't fit in or were cool and I united them around one cause - 8 Square. It was a ball game we played every recess, every lunch time from the bell ring to bell ring. We had a lot of fun and I was popular with all the outcasts but not Chessington Fairbank popular and that left me feeling empty. When I finished my year 10 I had a chance to change that.

The highschool I went to went al the way to year 12 but at the end of year 10 I left to go to a public college. I left a year of 60 kids to join a college of 1000 kids from all different parts of the north west coast of my state and in the two years while I was there I did the impossible. I pushed myself to be outgoing and be funny and started to become popular in a small group, then a bigger group and by second year I was the most popular kid in the school. Take that Chessington. But did it bring the fulfilment that I was looking for.... no

There is an aweful thing about high school/college, everyone eventually graduates and I wasn't surrounded by those who thought I was amazing anymore and I felt empty.

The quest to be popular is like eating junk food. It gives the sensation that you are eating but it is hollow calories. It is not really giving you all you need so you try to get more. For me, I got cut off and I had to reevaluate my life, but what if there is a way to never have to leave the buffet, and you could keep eating and eating and eating.

Introducing Social Media.

Now with social media you are not competing against the most popular kids in the school, you are now against the world and it doesn't stop at highschool. It can continue forever, you never have to graduate, you never have to put the phone down.

Just like highschool your goal doesn't have to be the most popular person in the world, but you can be popular in one of the infinite number of groups available. Sure you won't have as many followers as Taylor Swift, but if I can just get 100 followers then I will be something in my space. But when I get that, what is better is 200 followers, then maybe 300, but if I can get 1,000 it would be best. By the time I get to there, I can get to 10,000 and I can make this a business.

And that is the biggest lie of all that is being sold to young people, this could be your career. But the chances of that happening are similar to becoming a hollywood actor. A quick google search shows there are currently 32,130 working hollywood actors, but there are only 29,000 youtube channels with over 1 million subscribers in the world.

This is not a perfect comparison but it highlights this. No one tries to get work in Hollywood and thinks it will be easy, but some make it and they usually only the best, most talented or most lucky break through. But anyone can be a 'success' on youtube, tik tok, Instragram, facebook, X etc and that is so not true. It may have been the case when they first started but that is very much not the case now. All social media is an established business and only the best, most talented or most lucky break through. Sounds familiar?

So let's put that lie to the side and call social media what it is. It is a tool to share and connect with people. This is a good thing, but much like when using a power tool you need to understand what it's destructive power can be when used without limits.