Friday, December 20, 2013

Living IN the moment, but not living THE moment

As you've likely heard, "Selfie" is the word of the year according to Oxford dictionary. Even Darth Vader got in on it. Let's set aside whether you think Selfie really is the word of the year and think for a moment what the idea tells us about ourselves.

Above all, the popularity of the selfie tells me that people want to take a moment from what they're doing and take a photo to remember the occassion. Well, ideally, that's what it means. But more and more, it seems like it's done just to step outside of whatever is going on at the moment to show other people who awesome it is.

My friend Damon Brown has actually written a Ted Book on the idea that documenting everything moment like this actually prevents you from living the moment. And, to a certain degree, I think many people do exactly this. His book is called Our Virtual Shadow, you should certainly check it out.

Earlier this year, I read a popular book called The Circle, by Dave Eggers which takes the idea of sharing everything to the nth degree. You should NOT check it out since I think it's a pretty ridiculous book as my review on Goodreads pretty well summarizes :)

So let me get to the another point in the spectrum where I think many people are, and I try as much to be. It's the place where you enjoy the moment you're in, but also try to record something for future remembrance. In "Note to Selfie", there's an honest take about stepping outside of the moment to capture something which actually let's you re-live the moment in the future. The author, John Dickerson, shares a photo of his kids looking at fireworks and how this photo actually helps them recall the surprise they had while watching them. I've actually got a similar photo of my daughter pointing at Juky 4th fireworks while my father is holding her. I'm sure we've all got lots of photos like that. Moments we look back on that allow us to re-live the emotions. We can appreciate those times even more with simple photos like that.

But as we shift to a world where everything we need can be done with a little device in our pocket, we're seeing a whole spectrum of usage. From the obsessed selfie queen, to the person who can barely take a clear photo with their phone. I tend to agree with Dickerson...That person who's obsessed with checking in every where they go, taking a selfie at every turn, and posting mundane statuses on Facebook? That same person would probably do similarly self-centered and annoying things without a smartphone.

The thing is though that our phones enable us to do all this sort of stuff with such little effort that unless we check ourselves, we'll go overboard. And that's exactly what Brown is getting at. There's definitely a happy medium. I try to stay the middle ground, but I sway too far to the over-usage category many times.

Since it's nearing year-end, now's as good a time as any to look back on what moments you've captured through the year. Every service seems to have a way to loo back on your year so check them out. How many of those statuses would you remove? Take a look at the photos you took on your phone. How many are really moments you care about? If you feel like you way over-shared on facebook, twitter, etc, then chill out next year. If you can hardly find memorable photos on your phone, then take fewer next year.

Just because your phone's in your pocket doesn't mean you've gotta take it out every time you're heading out the door, sitting down to eat, or watching a killer sunset.

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