My facebook is often bombarded with posts about people complaining about the world in an attempt to sound wise and activisty (it’s going to be a word, because I said so). I often see posts complaining about ignorance witnessed in daily life, about current events and how people disagree with them, etc. However, my new least favorite cause that the people of the facebook have taken up is the anti-technology/anti-social media cause.
Forget about the irony of the fact that people are using facebook to complain about social media for a second, because if you keep that in mind then there’s no need for me to post about how stupid this cause is because it already destroys itself.
Technology can get in the way of experiencing life. I am aware of this fact. Everyone knows that it can be annoying to try to talk to somebody when they are glued to their phone and texting other people. I’m a huge advocate for no phones at the table when you’re eating with people, and for turning my phone off during important conversations and events.
But there seems to be this idea that you can’t have technology, engage in social media, and also experience the world. I’m thinking specifically of a spoken word poem I heard today, as well as the statement I come across from time to time about how people are too busy “documenting their lives to experience them.” I find these ideas to be absolutely ridiculous.
As someone who has traveled to many regions of the world, I have no shame in saying that I took a few seconds here or there to take a photo or check in on facebook. I enjoy the idea of sharing my adventures with my friends and family, and they enjoy the idea of knowing that I am still alive after I tell them I am going to go climb a mountain in the middle of a third world country. It is a win on both sides. I highly doubt that taking a minute to snap a photo of myself on the Great Wall of China, or to take a selfie with a random cow in India, or to record a short video of the New Year’s fireworks at the London Eye in any way hindered my ability to experience those opportunities to the fullest. I will never look back at life and think “I really regret wasting those 20 seconds in Beijing on social media.” But if I had I done the opposite, I would definitely someday look back at life and think “I wish I had more pictures/documentation of my adventures.”
I do not, as this video suggests, walk around with my head constantly buried in my phone. Sure, I check it every once in awhile, when I have a spare moment and nothing much is happening. Maybe when I’m waiting on someone whose late for plans, or if I’m standing in line for something, or while I’m using the bathroom. I highly doubt I’m going to miss out on a lot of life experiences or miss meeting my soul mate while I am sitting on the toilet, but hey, I guess you never know.
The overall premise that a person needs to be present every moment of every day is ridiculous. People zone out. People watch a movie or they read a book, and that’s seen as a perfectly acceptable distraction from the real world, but god forbid they get on facebook, which depicts real things happening in real people’s lives (that you know in REAL life), because that’s just not paying attention to reality…
And let’s just ignore all the benefits that technology and social media bring to us. The extremely fast ability to spread news, the ability to get opinions and reviews from other people instead of relying on a company’s word, the ability to easily keep in touch with friends from a distance, the easy access to infinite amounts of information, etc. I seem to recall an occasion in which a gunman entered my school’s campus and the school neglected to inform it’s students but thanks to facebook and twitter and one student who witnessed the guy, everyone knew to stay inside and safe within minutes. Nobody was criticizing our addiction to social media then.
There’s always going to be that annoying person who doesn’t know when to put the phone down and interact with others, but I find that those people are few and far between. For the rest of us, there is absolutely nothing wrong with taking a minute here or there to connect with the digital world. I promise you, if anything important is happening, chances are you are intelligent enough to look up on your own, and you won’t miss it just because you own a cell phone.