I am a lot of things. I am a sister, a daughter, a friend. Those titles hold the greatest weight in my life. Then are the things that come in close second: I am a writer, a guitar player, an actor, a student, a thinker, a teacher, a feminist, an artist, a grilled cheese eater, a chamomile tea drinker. And it’s no secret, and we may not even be friends, but you can know all of this by peeping my social media feeds.
Browsing through the lilspace blog, one of Kim’s articles particularly stood out to me, reminding me that social media has become the counterpart to anything I value.
Kim Cavallo, founder of the lilspace app, wrote a piece about texting in movie theaters and how steps like this “pave paradise” and alter integral aspects of sacred spaces. I paused and realized, the movie theater might be one of the last places I truly put away and silence my cell phone. Even then, I may share a picture of a playbill or ticket stub, or a photo of my face post-production reacting to what I just experienced. But for those ninety minutes or so, the dark room becomes a sacred place. The only place that I don’t prove to anyone where I am or what I’m doing.
Because that’s really what we do when we showcase our lives on platforms like Snapchat or Instagram for all our friends to see. We prove to them, and maybe ourselves too, that this is who we are. This is how we want to be seen, defined. As the girl that goes to that bar, who eats at that restaurant, who hangs out with those girls, and that boy.
Why can’t I go to that concert without posting? Why can’t I read that book without publicizing it? Somehow, part of my satisfaction in doing things that I enjoy is incomplete without telling the world.
Even experiences where the proof is inherent do not go unposted. Did my sister really come home from college if I didn’t say so online? Did my mom really turn 50? These images beg comments like, “you look like twins!” or “not a day over 45!” and simultaneously open the arms of my world to anyone who wants an awkward side hug. If you post it, they will come.
Just as that instant high of serotonin sings, the crash can be brutal. For the days that no one ‘likes’ or replies, that thing you were doing doesn’t feel as good as it should have. Whatever you were trying to prove can feel like a failure. The movie theater experience is broken when a light flickers and you realize the dark was only an illusion. A mere moment in time forged to create something we no longer have.
If it isn’t a picture, it’s a tweet. If it’s not an email from the boss, it’s a text from mom. If it’s cellular, it takes precedence. But it can’t take over.
So how will you find meaning in the trivial things we can’t help but share online? How will you separate and celebrate the reality that is impenetrable by plastic and glass? Apps like lilspace can influence that time to unplug. Time to reflect and enjoy on the genuine happiness Wi-Fi can’t give. To be the things at you are, just for the sake of being.