“So many young [people] treat life as a constant status update. It’s as if they’re more concerned with how their lives look than how their lives feel.” – Jane Buckingham
Okay, friends. We need to have a serious conversation about cell phones. And selfies. And social media. And how it’s making us vain. And self absorbed. And probably depressed. And, I’m going to warn you, this post may make me seem like a grumpy, old man who can’t keep up with the times, but I assure you – I share because I care. Truly. There seems to be this collective mindset anymore that unless you post about it, or share it, or snap it, it didn’t happen. Once in a lifetime experiences are no longer limited to that one lucky individual. Anyone with a wifi connection can get in on the thrill right alongside him. Facebook has this frightening “live” feature now where a map of the entire world glows with blue dots, each one a person with a cell phone recording themselves at that exact moment – in real time – sharing it with the world. All it takes is a hover of your mouse to peek in on their drolling monologue or lit rave or epic hookah cloud. It’s crazy and weird and annoying, really. The more things this like pop up the more I roll my eyes. Why must we share every waking moment of our lives? With complete strangers! Why do we think people care? Are we that attention deprived? Have we nothing better to do? We are saturated in an age of cell phones and GoPros and other like devices that can go everywhere with us and capture our adventures that hit every mark on the spectrum from exciting to mundane, but here’s the thing…
We need to stop. For real.
So, I’ll be honest. I started this blog post a couple weeks ago and just picked it back up today. I more than likely had some thought out, well adjective’d tangent to supplement that last bit, but – as a modest handful of things have happened in these past few days away from this half-composed Word document – I don’t remember exactly how it went anymore. Lucky for you, though I still remember the gist.
I was at a concert on my birthday – first week of August, a Thursday night – and there was this idiotic girl in front of my friends and I with her cell phone out recording a video of her and the crowd and the guy on stage singing. She would spin around in slow circles, panning the event from all angles and – this was the most grating part – she would periodically turn the phone so that it was recording her and she would make this moronically exaggerated face of staged excitement that would instantly fade the minute she went back to panning the crowd. I watched for a couple of passes, rolled my eyes internally, pointed her out to my friends and we shared a mutual look of judgment. Instead of actually enjoying the show in real life, this twat (to quote my friend Jess) was creating the perfect snap to send out to her “friends” (I use that term loosely, as many of our “friends” on social platforms are nothing more than distant acquaintances we keep around to keep tabs on and live vicariously through.) to elicit likes and shares and likely a bit of jealousy from those who weren’t in attendance.
This whole “staging-of-moments” thing and “highlight-reel” posting business is killing us. We’ve decided that our lives aren’t exciting enough as they are, they need to be filtered and posed and viewed from just the right angle, which would be harmless if…if…we didn’t mistake these moments for real life. Discernment is key. How many times have you scrolled through your news feeds and read post after post and looked at picture after picture from your friends and followers and decided that their lives were exponentially more exciting than your own? You think, ‘My life is boring,’ or ‘My life’s a mess’ when in reality you’re perfectly normal. By the same token, how many times have you been the one doing the posting? Knowing full well you’re dressing up a situation to seem like more than it is? I’ve been guilty of both, as I’m sure we all have. It’s only natural when the whole basis of social media is to share and get reactions. I think it’s okay to indulge every once in a while, but when we get wrapped up it becomes quite detrimental. We can’t just go somewhere and be there, we have to let others know about it. It’s our modern day “If a Tree Falls in the Woods” scenario: If a person goes to a coffee shop and doesn’t share a picture of their latte, were they ever really there?
There's no quick fix for this attention-seeking hole we've dug for ourselves, but I think if we just slowly make more of an effort to be "present" rather than being concerned with how we "present" the situation for our followers to envy, we can slowly detach ourselves and instead of worrying if anyone hears our tree falling, we can just focus on the falling itself so we don't land on our face.