For whom are you living? It’s something I ask during new year’s resolution season.
If it’s not eating better, it’s working out more, or it’s saving more, or it’s limiting cellphone use – or all four. Common resolutions that people, well, never fulfil. But good on them for trying. (How do I insert an eye roll in a newspaper column?)
I spend little time on social media. Remember, I wrote a book called Put Down Your Damn Phone Already. When I do scroll Facebook or Instagram, there are three kinds of posts that jump out at me: Gym selfies, real-time vacation highlights, and parents exploiting their kids.
It’s one thing to be at the gym to improve your overall health, but suddenly everyone feels the need to broadcast their workout results. It’s like a rite of passage now to find a mirror and snap a selfie somewhere in a gym.
Over Christmas, every other post was someone showing off their Mexican vacation. Displaying every meal, every drink on the beach, every ha-ha-you’re-not-here moment to the (hopefully) envious people back home.
As for kids, every first day of school, every first soccer game, every birthday — practically every life milestone of any kid born in the past 10 years has been broadcast on social media.
While I understand how exciting it is to see yourself losing weight, and having a good time on the beach, and showing how brilliantly talented your kid is, I refer, again, to my initial question.
Are you enjoying these moments for yourself or for everyone else’s benefit?
Any time I go on a trip (and I travel a lot for work) my mom tells me to “take lots of pictures and send them” while I’m away. I do and I don’t. I take lots of pictures because it’s part of my job to host tourism programming or cover a red carpet, but I’m not thinking, “I have to send these to people right now because…”
There’s no because, because I’m living in the moment and enjoying it for what it is.
When I’m in the rainforest in Panama, I’m looking around at the nature and appreciating the silence and soaking up the tropics. I’m not on a beach thinking, “Hold on, I just have to post these pics on Facebook so everyone can see.” I’m not thinking about Canada and everyone back here. It’s the furthest thing from my mind.
It’s like that question, “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” If a vacation photo is posted and doesn’t get “likes” did the moment really happen? Moreover, do you, the vacation poster, end up liking the moment more because others “liked” it on social media?
It might sound like I’m judging people and perhaps I am.
Live life for yourself. Experience it for yourself. Live in those moments and stop checking in with viewers to get their approval. You might enjoy the time more if you focus on what’s in front of you and all around, rather than worrying about capturing it for everyone who’s not there. It’s your moment.