Death by Selfie

I was sitting in our local historic Art Deco theatre last evening, waiting for the start of a concert put on by our Arts Magnet high school. I automatically pulled out my phone and took a shot of the stage, taking in the beauty of the architecture to post on my Facebook page. As the concert began, I watched a half dozen folks pull out their phones to take blurry photos of the concert.

A  new awareness of the power of those electronic devices over my life had been brewing this week. I spend eight hours a day in front of a computer screen. I check my phone for messages from my husband or kids throughout the day. I no longer get the newspaper delivered to my driveway each day, instead I read stories online. I write poetry and stories on my laptop in the evening. And before I turn off the light, I check Facebook one more time.

At work I spend time loading content on our social media pages. We talk about ways to get connected electronically and we study stats-constantly.

I’m surrounded by technology and social media in particular. It’s hard to avoid it today. But, I am becoming increasingly aware of how often I stare at my screen, instead of the people seated next me. Maybe it’s because my youngest is on the cusp of adulthood. She will graduate this June, and by August be ensconced in her dorm, and no longer sitting on the love seat in the family room. Maybe it’s the realization that life is growing increasingly short; time with my husband and other loved ones needs to be experienced, not recorded incessantly for social media.

This morning on the CBS Sunday Morning program, Faith Salie offered a opinion piece titled, Death by Selfie:

We’re not living in the moment; we’re making sure we can demonstrate we HAD the moment to everyone we know (and don’t know).

She also says:

We rely on a “cloud” to capture what’s happened to us rather than absorbing it into our souls. We aren’t allowing ourselves to have an experience we can hold in our mind and turn into stories we can share. Not by Instagram, but by mouth. 

We’re losing the art of telling someone a story.

The last sentence struck a chord. I have been a storyteller my whole life. I loved relating a good anecdote, and writing them down. As a story teller, I need to be observant- watching others, listening to snippets of conversation, and generally taking in my surroundings.

More importantly, I don’t need to outsource my memories of my time with loved ones to the cloud. I want to be fully present in the moment. A photo to remember the day? Sure, why not. But do I need to share every concert, every event with the world, via a selfie?

If I am busy recording the experience, am I really enjoying the full experience?

For me- no.

Last year, more people died from selfies than shark attacks. And many more have been injured by taking their own picture.

Selfies can be slowly killing our memories as well.



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