Real Life Happens Offline
At the bar this past weekend, I saw a flash go off in the corner of my eye. A group of seniors lovingly grouped together to document their last first-night out in college. Moments later, as they began to separate from their completely posed positions, I heard a backwards-hat clad boy shout to the cameraman, “Tag me, bro!”
This scene is absurdly common. In fact, I am relatively shocked if only one “OMG… DETAG!” reverberates through my ears a night. The aforementioned seniors, and everyone with an Internet connection or cell service, were so busy documenting the moment that it’s extremely plausible to ponder: were they actually living in it?
Between Twitter, Facebook, BBM profiles and statuses, etc., citizens of the world are constantly connected at all times.
“I just got my first kiss!! ilu Johnny <3” popped up on my Facebook Newsfeed the other day. The user was 14. (Perhaps the real issue is why am I FB friends with a 14 year-old…). That same evening, a friend was doing a bar crawl in DC and Foursquared his whereabouts half-hourly.
Sure, these examples could all be deemed as a total overshare of information, causing you to suddenly unfollow their Tweets or “hide” their actions on your Newsfeed. But, let’s be honest, they are far from uncommon.
As a society, we have become obsessed with sharing our lives via social media outlets. It’s almost as if a something didn’t happen if it wasn’t documented on the Internet.
Rather than focusing on the now, conversing with friends, and even meeting new people, we focus on how our night will look tomorrow. It’s become so much about marketing ourselves to our peers, albeit at the lowest of levels, that it can be difficult to discern the difference between genuine and contrived fun. Hell, it’s hard to actually have actual fun.
“Smile for the camera!” might as well be “Smile for your future profile pic!” We take pictures in order to post them on our websites. To get our friends to “like” them and leave comments. Sure, sometimes it’s appropriate – like when you’re on vacation or studying abroad. But, the picture of the Dirty Corona you downed at the waterfront bar the other day? Telling everyone your whearabouts every second of the day?Or the posed shot of you and your girlfriends sharing a shark bowl? What’s the point? How is anyone actually enjoying that moment (and that potent cocktail) when their main focus is documenting it for others to see?
There’s nothing wrong with sharing experiences and memories with your friends, but there is a big difference between sharing experiences and completely missing out them because you’re so consumed with sharing them.
Yes, social media is a great way to stay on top of our friends’ (and friends of friends of friends’) lives, but its time to start actually living ours. To get offline and focus on the here and now. To explore, to hang out with friends you otherwise wouldn’t, to simply notice your surroundings in a whole new light. To enjoy what you’re doing with the people you’re doing it with. You’ll rid yourself of an exorbitant amount of distractions and find yourself enjoying the actual situation, not just how it will appear on Facebook in a few hours.
My roommate and I tried this yesterday. We ended up biking to the local pool and cooled off on the 95° day. As she doubled me on the handlebars of her shiny red cruiser across the bumpy cobblestones of Georgetown’s back streets, we looked absolutely hysterical. Me, holding on for dear life. She, pedaling as hard as she could so we didn’t suddenly topple over. Did we tweet, take a picture, or update our status to share our fun with the world? No. But it happened, we had fun and it’s probably been my favorite memory so far this year.
What do you think? Are you living in the now… or in the tomorrow?