Digital Apostate — Part IX: The Fart Chamber

Before you go skipping this part based on the above title alone, give it a second. It has less to do with foul flatulence and everything to do with believing one’s own hype. It should come as no surprise that social media has given the general impression to its users that people really need to know what they’re doing. They’re craving any little tidbit of information you could give them – what you ate, what you read, how nice you look, the menial task for which you deserve adulation. Perhaps in reading the previous sentence, you can really see the absurdity of it all.

There is nothing special about eating a meal, reading a book, or completing a task. Throughout history, those things have happened quite literally every day. But, to post about it implies an extraordinary quality that one believes their particular post holds – “my reading of this book is more noteworthy than anyone else’s in history.” It’s ludicrous. And yet, this is what most people spend their time doing. It’s as though they live so they may post it later, otherwise it didn’t happen.

For the average person – and by that, I mean non-celebrity or public figure – social media creates an over-inflated sense of self-worth. Before we proceed, I feel I must make it clear that having a sense of self-worth is very important, and quite hard to come by. However, it’s when one’s sense of self-worth becomes exaggerated that a problem arises. It leads to a derivation of the exceptional from the mundane, a gross over-valuing of one’s worth, stock, importance and contributions.

It may seem trivial that a celebrity will post their lunch every day, their possessions, their endorsement of an expensive fad diet, but it isn’t. In trying to relate, the public figure elevates themselves to an internet Muad’Dib and effectively alienate themselves from everyone. It’s as though proof of privilege isn’t always well received; what are the odds? The alienated celebrity is nothing new, it’s been covered plenty. However, we’re entering the next phase of this alienation. Whereas a previously alienated star would just wallow, the star of today releases a constant stream of “content” that their adoring public must, of course, want. And many do want this, but the act of posting creates this state of deification. For some stars, they end up like so many of us do, with their heads up their own asses, taking themselves far too seriously. Rock stars and pop stars alike fit into this mold without social media by writing rudimentary songs with superficial lyrics and trumpeting themselves as eccentric artists, begging for your approval like high school drama students. It’s actually quite amusing to consider how seriously rock stars take themselves – give it some thought the next time one of these pompous performers appears on your phone, computer, or TV.

I digress, but the point is that the very act of posting these various nothings implies an internal expectation that the public wants, nay deserves, this information. This phenomenon is something I refer to as the “fart chamber.” The fart chamber refers to whenever a public figure (or private citizen) believes their own hype so much they lose the sense of what about them is worthy of praise, instead believing that everything they do must be great. To put it simply, they live in a chamber of their own farts and they’ve grown to love the smell. Rufus Wainwright said it best in when he said, “Enough of thinking everything that you’ve done is good.” 

The most glaringly obvious example of this is President Donald Trump. Even before social media, President Trump lived in a world of such privilege that he never had to hear he was wrong or uninteresting. His status from birth until the present moment garnered him nothing but praise and approval. Once social media arrived, he took to it like a lion to the hunt. He could now speak to and hear exclusively from his own audience. It’s a dangerous trap for anyone to fall into: having everyone approve of you all the time. You lose sight of what’s real, and worse still, you lose sight of just how insignificant you really are.

I don’t mean to demean anyone. We’re all insignificant in a global sense, and it’s in believing that you’re any better than anyone else that you seal yourself in the fart chamber. So, we’ve come around full circle here. The fart chamber, a place where so many find themselves when social media causes them to believe they’re the most interesting person in the world, is a very real place with disturbing consequences. 

I’m a writer, we live in our own fart chambers. We love our own ideas, that’s why we sell them to you. So, what’s the difference? Well, for one thing, writers are not (generally) asking you to look at our daily tasks and give us praise, though we do expect a great deal of it. The point is, we’re all in some form of fart chamber. Some chambers are sealed up like a vault, and some have doors. Don’t let social media seal the exits of your fart chamber, lest you become some sort of pompous social media monster who truly believes that the world is a better place because of their existence.

Published by Christopher Goodlof

Writer, Visual Artist, Musician

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