It seems as of late, people spend a lot of their time creating an online identity that are idealized versions of who they really are, myself included. We use social media as a confidence boost, and measure our self worth in terms of likes, retweets, favorites, and comments we receive from our peers, and even complete strangers. When we travel, go to a concert, or any place we feel is worth telling people about, we take a picture or video, and post it to our various social media accounts. A moment is almost never fully embraced and enjoyed before someone is reaching for their cell phone to take a picture of their surroundings. We are almost never left alone with ourselves, to explore, or truly experience. Instead of focusing on ourselves and our surroundings, we think of others when something happens. How it will impress them, effect them, etc. Our first instinct is surprisingly not to grasp the moment, we think of others, how we will appear to others when we show them what we’re doing. Think look how cool people will think I am when I post this on my Instagram. Almost all outings are an opportunity to brag to the world about how great your life is. But if we really know someone, the pictures and posts on social media do not usually reflect what they themselves, or their lives are really like. We use it to hi-light impressive moments in our life and idealized versions of who we really, in hopes that people will see them, be impressed, and admire us because of it. It comes to a point where we seem to be doing things just in order to get a photo of it and share it with others. Outings are no longer for pure enjoyment, but based on imagining “how cool the pictures will be!” Just a few days ago my roommates and I were discussing travel destinations when one of them said, “Oh my god we have to go, I need to get a picture in front of The John Lennon Wall.” Going to Prague was no longer about seeing, exploring, and experiencing the city ourselves, but instead of the picture opportunity just one small spot created. Despite the thousands of things the city has to offer, her main reason for going was the opportunity it created to share with her friends and get positive feedback because of it. As enjoyable as it is to be able to share these wonderful experiences with our friends and family, in real time, these “photo opportunities” seem to be taking away from the real life experience we should be having with these places. Do you even really see where you are if you’re only looking at it through a camera lens?
Think of concerts before the invention of hand-held camera phones. It was a room or stadium of people, together, singing, dancing and enjoying, and living through music. People weren’t on their cell phones, they were present, and when the band turned the lights off and asked them to illuminate the crowd it was with lighters, not cell phones. Now, people use cell phones which are usually already in the air in hopes to capture the perfect shot of their favorite band or musician. Even going online to find pictures before and after cell phone camera inventions, you can see the transition from the class lighter photo, to the cell phone screen illuminated room. One article I found partially interesting was on CNN, written by Jarrett Bellini where the featured photo was a sign from a band called the Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs. It has been blurred out for inappropriate language, but it reads “Please do not watch the show through a screen on your smart device/camera….Put that away as a courtesy to the person behind you and Nick, Karen, and Brian. Much love and many thanks! Yeah yeah yeahs. This was just one small attempt to bring people back to reality, to really enjoy and experience the show and not be on their phones. “Be present.” is often something my parents say to me when I seem to be glued to my phone during a family trip, and as frustrating as it is to hear, they are right. It’s time to be selfish! Actually enjoy our experiences, and stop trying to capture them for others to see.