I just read an article on Slate about “Moments.” “Moments” (I’ve deemed they should be in quotes) are supposedly any special event or happening, really any moment in our lives that we need to “capture” and post to various social media sites. Reading this article, it struck me that we’re actually living in some kind of twisted and strange dystopian future that our ancestors would have imagined as being horrible, cheap and meaningless. Are we actually living in cheap and meaningless times?! (Cue dramatic music!)
When you look at it from the outside in, it actually does seem this way. We’ve got these big money-making conglomerations in Silicon Valley telling us that we need to have these “moments” and that if we don’t “capture” them and “share” them, we’re basically wasting them and their significance. They’re telling us that we can’t really live life unless we use social media and technology. That’s the overarching silly or terrifying message, depending on how you take it. In order to live a meaningful life, you not only need to have the latest Apple device, you also need to have the latest social sharing app and the forethought to capture anything that remotely looks like a moment. Anything less is a WASTE OF YOUR LIFE! OMFG!!
Imagine that as a book synopsis from 30 years ago! Scary! Shivers!! EEK!! Big Corp owns us! Big Corps tells us what real living is! Big Corp shapes our lives! Big Corp owns all our private photos, thoughts and experiences! THE GOVERNMENT!! (ha!)
The strange thing is that all these social media sites are free to the user, but these companies are profiting on our “moments” which is pretty damn weird if you think about it. We’ve essentially agreed to share our moments with them via supposedly, our friends, so that they, Big Corp, can make money. Is that not just a little odd? It’s as if your grandmother agreed to take Polaroids of her family outings for a large corporation who told her that she wouldn’t really be living unless she did so, and she ate up said message and then the corp got money. The other weird aspect is that we often don’t think about the fact that these companies are making money. I think we imagine there’s this free service our there, so why not use it?
Plus the idea that you can’t have a moment of any kind without capturing it or sharing it, is starting to pervade our culture. As the article states, your smart phone is either your enemy because it doesn’t allow you to enjoy life as it happens, or it’s your best friend because it helps you “capture” these “moments” so you don’t waste them by letting them slip by, only to be forgotten. Is this really true? Is this what we’ve signed up for? It does seem rather cheap and meaningless that our lives have changed so much that we need our phones in order to have and capture moments. We can’t simply enjoy life or enjoy our memories in our brains, the original Instagram and FB. We are no longer allowed to mis-remember. Come on that was fun!
Reading the article left me feeling quite weird. Was this a Sci-Fi story I just read? Are we really living this way? Are these the debates we have now with fake shiny tan people telling us how we ought to live, giving us the shiny Apple run down on the latest tech to make our lives happier and more fulfilling? EEK!!
Since I’m a bit older and grew up first without much technology and then finally with it, in my 20’s, I’m actually able to have “moments” without sharing them. It often doesn’t cross my mind to get out my fancy smart phone and capture anything. I forget sometimes that it’s a camera. Which in some cases I regret because having photos would be nice. I’m not sure about the whole sharing them constantly bit though.
What amuses me the most is thinking about what our ancestors would make of our reliance on technology. If they heard about this scenario of big business dictating to us how to live our lives and everyone eating it up and complying, what would they think? Would they think we’ve gone mad? It’s only within the last 100 years or so that people have been able to phone each other! Prior to that we relied on letter writing, an extremely slow means of communication.
But now our communication has gotten so fast that it seems meaningless or at the least rather thoughtless. We don’t have a moment to think or let our experiences sink in before we’re posting them, commenting on them, packaging them into bite sized pieces. If you really think about it, all our posted moments now have a taint of bragging to them. It’s the kind of stuff you wouldn’t actually share in such a way in person because people wouldn’t want to talk to you anymore. But on social media, you can brag about all the “best” moments in your life. Your online life is very cherry-picked.
It’s definitely different when you think about writing a letter by hand. Think about how much time you had to think and prepare to write that letter. Each of our memories or moments would have to be thought about, slowly, methodically, and then when we’d decide to share them through writing to someone, each sentence would make us relive that moment and think about how we want to express it and what it really meant to us. The person on the other end wouldn’t read our words for a while as the letter traveled through the system, so you really don’t want to regret what you’ve written. There’s no delete key once you’ve sent that letter. However, now that I think about it, I’m sure letter writers did some bragging and cherry picking too! Have humans ever been immune?
I feel like peole back then must have a been a lot more thoughtful about their lives when we lived that way. It makes me think of journaling, which is something I used to do quite a lot. It’s a thoughtful way of recording what’s happened in your life, privately, in your own words, allowing you to really immerse yourself in reflection of your”moments.” Compare that to snapping a photo while you’re enjoying your moment, then hastily posting that photo to Instagram or FB with a filter and caption and meanwhile missing out on the rest of the actual moment. Hey, you know what though, blogging is really pretty awesome. I’ve thought a lot about this topic and am now presenting it to you in words. It’s one of my “moments” and I’ve actually spent some time thinking about it and presenting it!
And So…are we really living? Do we need to capture every moment in our lives on social media? Should we listen to these companies as they come out with ever newer and better technology? Where will it stop? I guess there are some wonderful things about our ability to communicate now, but there are also a lot of drawbacks. Our lives are too fast, under-analyzed, over-shared. The moment is no longer the moment it once was. The moment is now recorded in the moment, stored, shared, devalued and yes forgotten.
As weird as all this seems to me…I’m sure this was how people panicked in times past about new tech as well. It’s ruining our lives! We’re shallow and not really living!! MORAL CRISIS!!! And this debate is coming from me…someone who likes to share and who enjoys social media! Hey, I’m guilty, I like hyping stuff up, creating a moral panic!
The truth is…have humans ever really been able to enjoy life or moments without oversharing, bragging or cherry picking? Probably not.
I like that I sum it up on a depressing note about human nature. Depressing for the win!
I think I need to read 1984. Big BROTHER!!