Turning social media addiction into dance
Piqued by the prevalence of social media addiction, two Singapore dancers, Edwin Wee and Rachel Lum, have come up with a new contemporary dance piece about the topic. (Photo: Dong, Hollygood Media)

Turning social media addiction into dance

Do you start your day by checking your mobile phone for Facebook notifications and WhatsApp messages, and by browsing through Instagram stories?

The power that social media affords us – to connect and communicate with others across space and time – is irresistible. But like a double-edged sword, it has also become a pervasive presence in our lives, encouraging mindless scrolling, frivolous “likes” and drawing us away from the people and things that are present around us.

Piqued by the prevalence of social media addiction, two Singapore dancers, Edwin Wee and Rachel Lum, have come up with a new contemporary dance piece about the topic.

The work, DBL.TAP, asks if social media has caused us to be lost in a fantasised version of ourselves, and if we are more socially disconnected as digital connectivity improves. This is expressed, says Wee, through the dynamics of raw movements, which are meant to bring to one’s mind the rhythm of the ever-running social media feed.

The hope, says Lum, is that the dance will inspire audiences to reflect on the amount of time they spend on social media and spark post-show conversations about social media addiction.

The work will premiere in DiverCity, a performance featuring two other new dance pieces by Singapore dancers. The show (3 and 4 July) is part of the M1 CONTACT Contemporary Dance Festival.

Read on to find out how social media addiction and a dance on the issue has influenced the lives of the dance duo.

Are you addicted to social media?
Lum: Yes and no. It’s the first and last thing I use daily, but I always find myself consciously putting my phone down and getting back to “real life”.

Why were you inspired to come up with a dance based on social media?
Wee: I get very affected when I see families at dinner tables not engaging in conversation but are instead on their smartphones with ear pieces on, existing in their own little bubbles and mindlessly scrolling through social media platforms. They seem glad to not have to socialise and appear impatient when they engage with each other.

When I was a teenager, I found myself more comfortable seeking attention online while keeping to myself in real life. Because of my reliance on social media, I neglected to form new relationships in person with other people.

How can dance offer fresh views about social media addiction?
Wee: I believe the strongest and most beautiful thing about dance is that it is non-verbal, non-literal and yet, it possesses an energy that is highly communicative. If everyone stops trying to so hard to decipher every movement and just watch, absorb and feel, they may take home something bigger than the synopsis on the dance.

How has creating DBL.TAP changed your relationship with social media?
Wee: Rachel and I have been constantly trying to figure out how social media can affect our relationships with other people. I have been more conscious of my social media usage in daily life.

The replies have been edited and condensed. Details about DBL.TAP here.

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