We just celebrated another major holiday and I’m sure that if you were able to make it to any cookout or gathering, you noticed the exact same thing that I did. Almost everyone that had a phone was lost in it, scrolling through Facebook, posting on the ‘Gram and updating their Snapchat stories. How did we get here? When did proving to our social media audience that we had a good time become more important than actually having a good time? I love social media just as much as the next person but I’m afraid that if we don’t place more of an emphasis on living for the sake of living that even the most amazing things in life will start to lose significance.
It’s actually kind of funny that I’m writing this today because I sound almost exactly like my husband, who has a real disdain for social media. For months and months, he would remind me of the importance of just putting down my phone to see what’s going on around me. As a blogger, I almost have a responsibility to take photos and update my social media accounts as much as possible but over the last few months, I’ve recognized that I also have a responsibility to myself to unplug occasionally and enjoy life. Blogger or not, you know just as well as I know that social media can be extremely addictive. The likes, the retweets, the shares, the ability to see your life and your work on a public platform is incredible. Our smartphones give us an amazing connection to the rest of the world but in several ways, it’s causing a major disconnect. Hardly anything is organic anymore.
Remember organic time with friends? The impromptu meet-ups that sparked deep conversations and good laughs? While I’m sure these still happen, they rarely happen without the interruption of Facebook notifications and the obligatory selfie. Having the capability to talk with someone in person while responding to another person’s comments online is no-doubt amazing but honestly, it’s cheapening our relationships. Our friends deserve our undivided time and attention and I would love to see us get to a place again where we put our phones in our bags, leave them there and enjoy friendship—sans selfie. Get to know your friend’s quirks, read their expressions, fully listen to understand what’s going on with them. These are all difficult things to do if your attention is elsewhere.
Remember organic experiences? I think about my childhood a lot and I think back on all the vacations that we would take. I can still associate certain scents and certain songs with some of the memories that I have from the best moments of my life. The word for that sentiment is, of course, nostalgia. I’m afraid that if we don’t start spending more time living in the moment that the only source of our nostalgic moments may be our Facebook memories. Don’t get me wrong, taking photos and recording videos are so important (I follow Gary Vaynerchuk and he says documenting is important. I get it) but don’t forget to take the time to look around, take in the smells, feel emotion, take note of the people around you and their reactions. This is what makes us human. This is what my anti-social media husband was talking about. Experience for the sake of the experience.
If for no other reason, we need to unplug for the sake of our health. All day long, we get notification after notification; emails, text messages, requests, all types of things are popping up on our home screens demanding our attention at all hours of the day. In practical terms, with the exception of a few professions, would you allow the same rate of face-to-face human interaction? Absolutely not. It’s not healthy and that’s not the type of life that God intended for us. You need time to yourself, time to focus on the things that inspire you to make it to the next day. Keisha’s Snapchat story probably can’t do that for you. It’s okay to put your phone down, turn it off even, and take a few hours (or days) to stare at your man (I do this allll the time), sit outside to watch what’s going on in your neighborhood, and just experience life outside of your smartphone. Your human experience depends on it….and so does mine.