The craziest thing happened the other night when I was out for drinks with friends. I suggested that I wanted to vacation somewhere new and exciting this summer – somewhere in Europe like Spain, Greece, or Italy. My friends’ eyes lit up because one had been in Italy, while the other had visited Greece. One friend immediately grabbed her phone and said, “you’ve got to go to Greece…look at these photos on my Snap story!” I scrolled through a ton of really nice landscape photos and some cool food pics. However, my other friend said, “OMG, let me tell you about Italy! First we went to Capri and the beaches were just stunning. The people there were so kind and generous. Then right around the corner from the beach there was this amazing gelato place…” I was captivated by her story. I felt like I was listening to someone reading their best-selling novel out loud to me. The way she described Italy was so passionate – I wanted to book a trip to Italy right then and there!
So, on the drive home I asked myself, “are we coming into an age in which capturing the highlights of our lives is more important than actually enjoying those very same moments?” In other words, why are we so quick to pull out our smartphone and record the events of our lives rather than live and enjoy these occasions in the moment? Here are a few reasons why we have such a strong need to snap, click, and post our lives.
IF WE DIDN’T CAPTURE IT, IT DIDN’T HAPPEN
Not only do we seem to need to create a bank of experiences, we then need people to notice and acknowledge our experiences. We crave having our ‘followers’ and ‘friends’ comment on or like our lives as an affirmation of acceptance by our peers. What better way to feel wanted and cool than to log on and see the orange Instagram box with the white heart and the number of likes next to your newly-uploaded life event.
WE AS HUMANS REALLY, REALLY LIKE TO COLLECT STUFF
Psychologists understand the power of psychological hoarding. Simply put, deep down, we are all very competitive. We like to count our victories, and most of all, we love saying that we’ve ‘been there, done that.’ Facebook, Instagram, and SnapChat create hooks such as follower counts and photo ‘memory’ albums that make our experiences seem shared and real, giving us a false feeling of accumulation. It’s as if our most important experiences are now collectible.
LIKE IT OR NOT, WE’RE PART OF A BRAG CULTURE
Face it, most of us feel that we have to narrate our lives and show the world that we are just as, if not more exciting than anyone else we know! This brag culture has resulted in us being too busy narrating our lives online that we’re forgetting to actually live.
What’s the moral of the story? Stop recording and start living! Don’t showcase your life through the lens of your smartphone camera. You’re not a celebrity, and you don’t have to impress all your followers all the time. If you must share some experiences, do so and then put the phone in your purse or pocket for the rest of the night. Enjoy living in the future memory you’re about to create. Enjoy the living, breathing human being next to you. So, the next time you find yourself with the perfect lighting, great friends, and incredible experience, just smile, look around you and breathe it all in. Remember that it’s not in our eyes (or smartphones) that memories live, it’s in our hearts.
Written By Jono Macri
Illustration by Pierre Brignaud