Facebook, twitter, instagram, youtube, flickr, pinterest: Our generation is filled with an overwhelming number of portals in which to share the details of our lives, our memories, our talents, our thoughts and interests, even the minute details of each day.
Sharing what used to be only experienced within close circles has become the expected. A vacation, a wedding, the birth of a family member and birthdays are not to go unpublicized, but are being exploited in order to announce our current joy and to obtain approval in the form of “likes” and comments. I wonder how constricting this social norm is, and what are the consequences of our lost privacy?
When I went to El Salvador over winter break, I dreaded uploading the enormous number of pictures I took onto Facebook. I sat in front of my computer to begin the annoying process of uploading, trying to come up with an original name for the album and tagging the individuals who accompanied me, until I thought, “Wait—why does this feel like an obligation?”
I left the computer astonished at my silliness, but after the vacation was over, I gave in and uploaded my pictures. Otherwise, no one would know it had ever happened and, therefore, my vacation would be pointless.
I say this as a joke, but the reality leaves me uneasy. It is as if special moments are swept away without being documented and shared nowadays. Why do we feel that people have to know and validate the things we experience in order for them to be real?
Experience does not belong to the individual today, but rather to the collective. (I’m sounding like a real sociology student now.) In sharing our moments, we give up our right to them as an individual and enter them into the realm of the public. Facebook even tells us in small print that whatever we post belongs to them.
I worry that, as a generation, we have stopped enjoying moments and focusing on the present because we are too busy snapping shots for later social media publishing; we are too busy tweeting about an event instead of watching it.
As an owner of an iPhone, I can tell you, it is a social disease. Constantly socializing via internet makes us antisocial in real life.
We should go retro and start buying disposable cameras, so we can hang pictures in our room instead of on the internet. We should stop choosing filters on instagram and instead learn how to develop film. We should make personal phone calls instead of status updates, and write letters instead of emails. Going too far?
It is true, social media can be convenient, especially in circumstances of long distance, but I challenge you to deactivate Facebook for at least a week and remember what it was like to only know someone’s personal life from gossip, or preferably, if they tell you themselves.
Remember what it was like to experience something special and have it be your own. I challenge you to fight for your right for a private experience.