Get your phone out and ready, because life is happening all around you and, if you're not careful, you might miss the opportunity to catch that perfect Instagram post.

Hold your camera in front of your face every second of every day. Don’t ever let yourself be caught off guard, and be prepared to document everything. Save it for prosperity. When you get the chance, take pictures of that sunset off in the distance, video the band at the concert, and take a selfie with the famous actor. By capturing these moments you can surely live in them for forever. Any time you please, you can look back and reflect on all your amazing adventures.

Take a minute now to scroll through your camera roll and admire the precious pictures you so whole heartedly worked for. Do you remember? Do you feel that same excitement? Can you hear your laughter? Can you recall the joy?

No. You can’t, and it’s OK to admit it. The truth is, in your fight to capture the moment perfectly, you forgot to actually live it. If you can honestly say that some portion of those memories did not involve how you had to fidget with your camera beforehand, the urgency to snap the picture on time, the search for the right lighting, the time spent deliberating over the filter, and the number of likes you received, then props to you.

For the rest of you, you’re getting no judgement here. I understand that getting caught up in all of that happens and it is the society we live in. With the new (in terms of history, but maybe not in terms of our lifetime) necessity of having high resolution cameras at our fingertips, society has become mesmerized by the idea of pictures, and more specifically, sharing these pictures with our peers. As if we weren't enthralled with the wonders of a smartphone already, right? Where it previously was the hub for all the communication, planning, and google searching of our lives, we're now letting it be the only thing to experience them as well.

We have to stop and ask, what does life really look like through a lens? Well, it depends. Is your selfie game strong? Because if so, you’re probably considered conceited. Do you take a million pictures with your sorority sisters? You’re probably considered a brat. Are your pictures perfectly airbrushed, edited and captioned? Well, you’re probably a try-hard, or my personal favorite term: fake.

Truthfully, life through the lens is a judgmental one full of envy and hate. We spend a good amount of our time so focused on the lives that others are trying to portray through their 8-megapixel “iSight” camera that we aren’t enjoying our own. In some even more severe cases, we allow ourselves to succumb to the ruse as well. More interested in the long post we can write on Facebook about a family trip or an awards ceremony than the event itself, we tend to find ourselves present in body and absent in mind, which brings me back to my point: Why are we allowing the drive to capture and share our lives mask the drive to enjoy them? Why are we more concerned with portraying that we had fun at the beach than actually having fun there? Why are we more concerned with having witty captions than actually having wit?

Another pearl of truth here, I don’t know. I don’t know why we make everything a competition and why it’s all so skin-deep, and odds are you don’t either. We’ll never know how we spiraled into this corrupt and crazy world, and we’ll never know who to fully blame.

What I do know is that we can end it just as swiftly as we started it. So maybe it’s time for some re-focusing instead of auto-focusing, and the first step is pretty easy. Stop worrying about living and live. Put the camera — and we all know I mean phone — down. Be aware of what's going on around you and document it mentally instead of socially. Forget about how it looks on the outside. Experience it on the inside. Appreciate the way it feels, and smells, and sounds in addition to the way it may appeal to our eyes and the eyes of others.

When you get the chance, admire that sunset off in the distance, listen to the band at the concert, and take a minute to talk with the famous actor. See life through the perspective of your eyes instead of the one in your camera. Maybe with this small step to quit concerning ourselves with acquiring tangible proof that we had a good time, we can actually have one. A camera roll full of perfect pictures and no memories is really just empty — and what good is that for anyone?