Social media is one of the most important innovations of the past 10 years. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are all very useful tools for communication and spreading ideas. However, sometimes it’s easy for us to become so concerned with sharing our lives that we forget to experience it.
Peace Activist, Thich Nhat Hanh wrote in Peace is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life, “if we are not fully ourselves, truly in the present moment, we miss everything.” Although this was written in 1992, it holds more power today than ever before.
Social media and cell phones work together so perfectly that there’s always instant access to almost everybody we know. When we do something interesting, sometimes our first thought is to let everybody else know about it. We feel that first rush of excitement, and immediately want everybody else to see it. The effect this has is that we interrupt this experience, and we’re not enjoying life as thoroughly as we could be.
Instead of being sure that everybody who isn’t there gets to see your moment, savor it with all the people who are really there. Enjoy the good times, and keep happy moments for yourself. In 10 years, nobody is going to look back on the status you posted; but you will still reflect on that point in time by yourself.
Even what we’re going through isn’t a happy experience; we sometimes look to social media for support. Although some parts of our lives are far from pleasant, it’s still important that we truly experience them.
For example, the loss of a loved one is hard, but it’s extremely important that the experience is taken in fully. The reasons we have funerals are to respect the deceased and allow those attending to grieve properly. It’s important to feel all the negative emotions, and share them with the people around you. For this reason, posting to social media during a funeral is considered inappropriate. The same principle can be applied to most negative experiences in life. When you’re feeling upset about something, work it out with other people through face-to-face communication. Doing so through social media is less effective, because the internet is serving as a middleman.
Posting a status about a negative experience could help for a few minutes or maybe a couple of hours, but the emotions associated with the experience have not gone away, we simply just delay feeling them. A thousand nice comments over the internet are not as potent as the support of even one person around you. That other person could use your support as well.
Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have their uses, but we have to make sure that we’re not overusing them. Social media has its place, and posting everything you do at all times of the day doesn’t hurt those around you, but you could be hurting yourself in the long run. When you take out your phone and start typing, you’re pulling yourself away from real life for a few minutes. We should all try to make our lives flow as naturally as possible, and avoid unnecessary distractions; especially during significant moments.