The Social Life
Hey, my name is Coco and I’m not from here. Me and my siblings, if you can call them that, came from far away. I mean really far away, like another dimension. We crash-landed here awhile back and it’s been really a wild ride fitting in here on earth. You see where we come from it’s a bit different, we don’t really have homophobia, racism, sexism, fascism or really any kind of disconnected ideas like that. Since we have worked really hard as a society to honour each other. We respect and celebrate each other’s differences. That way we can focus on doing the things that matter most like creating art, inspiring others and nurturing people on their journey. It’s not to say that we don’t have any problems, just that we focus on solutions and lifting each other up.
When we arrived on Earth my brother Gray was super excited to capture the experience on this vibrant planet. See he is an image-maker and has a special talent for telling visual stories. Where we are from this is so important to the balance and harmony that we keep. Through his eyes, we are able to create understanding and grow compassion for our differences.
My sister Lucky is what you would call a Celebrity. Being influential because of her somewhat outrageous personality is really a special gift that helps to inspire people and motivate them. She is often the life of the party and a muse for image-makers like Gray. Among her special gifts is her ability to connect with animals. During our time here on Earth, there have been too many times to count where stray dogs and cats have curled up beside her. She's basically magnetic.
I’m the final person in our pod and I’m a bit of a mix. I certainly don’t mind the attention, but my special gift is words. It took me a little bit to wrap my head about the many languages on earth, they are a bit clumsy if I’m being honest. In the end, I’ve come to really appreciate the communication tools here. I still can’t get over autocorrect trying to duck with me occasionally. So, where does our story go from here? Since we landed it’s been two years and in that time a lot has happened. Let’s start at the beginning.
In the beginning, our first few days on this planet were awe-inspiring and we were filled with such hope. We saw so many people who were different and incredibly luminous. All we wanted to do was learn more and experience new things. But soon we got introduced to some things that were very new to us. People saw us as different. People treated us with fear and were hurtful to us. We didn’t really know what to do with these reactions since back home things flowed in such natural harmony. At first, we just tried to ignore it but then that became harder, so we began to play with fashion. We started to find our style, started to dress the part to fit in, making sure our outward appearance helped us in social situations. And this gained our little group many friends and also many followers. It was pretty great, at first.
Lucky is the biggest showstopper and loves to be the center of attention. She would wear the craziest outfits and do the wildest things to get noticed. Of course, people loved her, especially to her face. We learned quickly that many people actually had awful things to say behind her back. But haters going to hate as they say. Yes, when the show was over many people wanted Lucky put back in a box and tucked away for the next party. But oh, how she shined.
And dear Gray was always the fly on the wall capturing everything. The good, the bad and the downright hilarious. They called him anti-social and he didn’t care at all. Snapping candids at a party, chasing a perfect sunset or pulling a smile out of a model on set. It was all good for him. I always wondered deep down if he really cared what people thought of him, especially with comments online. As close as we are, I still can’t always tell what’s going on inside with him.
It was a typical Friday night, and everyone was getting ready to head out. Of course, Lucky had to be a bit extra, not sure what was up with her lately, but it seemed like she was only happy when the volume was turned way up. It had been something strange Gray and I had noticed since we came here this kind of strange energy exchange between the attention and the lack of it. We kept a watchful eye on her and planned for a killer night on the town.
One of the best feelings was walking into a place as a group. We were so complimentary to each other with our personalities. We had only been separated once as a group, during our first year on Earth, and that time made our connection even stronger once we were reunited. Our relationship was so symbiotic I think we all feared the world would end without each other. I had never wanted anything but happiness and freedom for my siblings. Being together now was something I would always be grateful for.
At our favourite pizza joint, there is this semiprivate hallway by the bathroom where I love to stop and check my phone. As much as I love being out, I definitely need to find moments where I can pull myself back to recharge. I’m also always waiting for Lucky to finish fixing herself in the bathroom mirror. So, this is our routine. I wait, sneak in a selfie and daydream about what’s going to happen next.
Huddled up to the mirror putting on the last of her makeup Lucky was getting her game face on. Putting yourself out there was a totally new thing for us because back home being authentic wasn’t a badge it was really just how things are. We all had our characters now that we played when we entered social situations, maybe you want to call it a mask. Funny way to connect we used to say to each other, but now it seemed kind of normal.
And when it’s finally time to put on a show, it's lights camera action. Dancing with tilted heads and funny expressions. Fake it until you make it, or just fake it. What we learned so fast was these social images we were creating had become a shadow of who we really are. But what was the harm of living in these shadows if it gave us a bit of protection? What if not revealing everything was in its own way the most acceptable version of ourselves.
As the night carried on and we shared stories of our day I was struck by Lucky’s empathy. The way she would lean into a conversation and not only listen but experience the words. Gray, of course, had much less intensity but took things just the same processing under a calm exterior. We had all come from a place of togetherness but since arriving here had to relearn how to stay connected. Such creative passionate souls. How we struggled with words, images and art to keep our bond strong.
The power of words for me is something I think about a lot. They carry such different meanings for each person depending on the context. Intention doesn’t always excuse actions either, so we need to be careful. But something I know for sure is that even though there are cruel people in this world, something none of us had ever experienced, people just want to be seen. People want to be appreciated and recognized. Listening is the best way to decide which words to use.
This darkness that surrounds the social life is real. Social life is real. Our messages, images, videos and posts don’t exist separate from our lives. They are the same. So, when Gray gets crazy and decides to be totally anti-social it’s not a big surprise to us. The truth is that you can’t separate our social lives from our real lives any more than you can stop coffee from being poured every morning. It’s really about our relationship with this inevitable reality.
And for Lucky and others like her, having influence is power. That’s why we call her an amateur celebrity because we are all learning how to use that authority with good intentions. She once told me that being in the spotlight was like having the sun on your face, full of warmth. But that the moment the sun goes behind a cloud it’s colder than you ever remembered. So, we keep her grounded and remind her of her true value, tethered to what’s really important.
The ambient clinking of plates and glasses fills the room as we finish our meal. We have been through a lot since we arrived on this beautiful planet. Separated from each other we struggled to understand loss only to be reunited in our darkest hour. Judged by our peers and tangling with our own self-identities. Learning the language of content creation in order to express our deepest love and gratitude for this human experience. Yes, we have built walls, but we have also built monuments.
Design Collab: @joseph.anderson.art
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