I just finished listening to Nev Shulman’s book, In Real Life: Love, Lies and Identity in the Digital Age. The book talks about Nev’s experience with being a victim of being deceived online, how he struggled with identity and issues throughout his youth, and online behavior.
After reading this novel, I began thinking about my own digital habits. Like most people in their twenties, I own a smart phone and social media accounts. I also have a smart watch, a tablet, a Nook and a Kindle, a laptop, and AirPods. You can say that I am well connected.
In the book, Nev discusses how all of these items that are meant to keep us even more connected turns out to be the very thing that is disconnecting us. How ironic.
But, it’s true.
I mean think about it for a second. Let me ask all of the millennials out there a quick question. When you go somewhere – from out to dinner with friends to a concert to even a vacation – how many of you take out your phone to document it? After all, selfie or it didn’t happen right?
Needless to say, not only you went on vacation, but also your many followers went along for the ride too.
Sure, I am like all of you out there who want to document the moment. However, I noticed the less my phone is out, the better of a time that I have. That’s why I rarely use Snapchat or Instagram story. Instead, I snap a photo of what’s going on, and then put my phone in my pocket.
Wanna know why?
So I can enjoy the moment.
And instead of posting it right then and there, I wait until the next day.
That way, I can focus on the awesome thing in front of me, instead of trying to think of a good caption.
Isn’t that a novelty?
However, what truly bothers me about social media is how focused we are on getting likes. I’m not going to lie – getting a lot of likes on something is awesome. But, why does it matter? Does it give you instant validation to get 100 likes instead of 10?
Sure, it feels great to have people like your stuff. It’s almost as if you won the approval. And, the more that you get, the better off you are.
But, that’s not life. Life isn’t about the amount of followers you have online. It isn’t about the people who like your photos – people who are a mixture of people you know and don’t know in real life. Life is about living in the moment with people who care.
So, why do we put so much energy into winning the approval of people that you don’t even know?
Well, maybe it’s like high school all over again. Remember back when you were in high school, you focused on creating a lot of friends, versus the quality of friends that you have. Maybe social media is similar to the high school hallways, and we are the constantly just wanting to have the cheerleaders voice their approval on us.
But, like many of you, high school was ten years ago.
So, here’s what I propose.
One, let’s focus less on our online presence and more on the life we lead in our real life. Instead of snapping during the concert, post a photo or two after the fact. That way, you can focus on enjoying the concert, instead of documenting every single second. The same goes with vacations, girl’s nights, etc. Just take a couple of photos, and focus on the moment. Chances are, you’ll have more fun.
Two, let’s remind ourselves that we are not a number. We are human. We measure ourselves on so much – income, education, etc. – that we shouldn’t add the number of likes and followers we have matter in measuring how much our self-worth is.
Finally, let’s learn to love ourselves. I know that’s a little bit more far-fetched and out of context, but the more that we learn to love us, the less likely that these things will matter.
And, the happier that we will be.
So, I conclude this with one final message: get off your phone