I can’t say it’s you, or it’s me, but we need a break.
Over the weekend, I spent what was supposed to be a relaxing, de-stressing, unplugged weekend in Nashville with a dear friend of mine. I was venturing south to celebrate my cousin’s bar mitzvah and decided to make a long weekend out of it, getting hopelessly and joyously lost in one of my favorite cities.
My friend Clare, a Nashville semi-native, had planned 48 hours of awesome for us – an incredible show at the uber-historic Ryman Auditorium, creative cocktails at the city’s quirkiest nightspots, wallet-bending shopping, over-sized flights at Nashville’s local brewery, and to-die-for, farm-to-plate cuisine at restaurants that would rival even New York City’s best.
But through it all, I found that the more time I spent updating every social media channel with photos and updates on my experiences, the more disconnected I felt to the experiences themselves. It’s like what I imagine to be the drawbacks of being a film critic – can they really enjoy the movie as a whole if all they do is stop after each scene to take notes?
There was a moment when I knew Clare was trying to tell me a story but all I could focus on was getting the right filter for a photo I was uploading to Instagram. As a result, I likely missed out on something that was going on in her life because I was so consumed by perfecting my own.
Well, that is, the online version of my own.
If, before everything you do, you have to ask yourself, “Will choosing to do X give me something enviable to share on social media?” you’ve lost touch with the reality of your life.
And I’ve found that I’ve lost touch with mine. I’ve started choosing experiences that enrich my online life more than my real one. I’ve developed an overinflated self importance that makes me overestimate people’s interest in my personal life. I’m sure a lot of you are genuinely interested. But really – do my experiences matter? Probably not.
So rather than doing things only because they offer up a good photo op, I’m going to start doing things that will actually enrich my life.
There was a time when I would actually call a friend to hear about their newborn rather than simply “liking” the kid’s monthly photos on Instagram. There was a time when I actually listened to what my friends were saying, rather than dissecting pieces of conversation to find the best things to “overhear” on Twitter. There was a time when the first thing I would do after a break up is call my best friend, instead of posting thinly veiled and passively vague, sad song lyrics on Pinterest.
If you’ve spent any time with me, you know that I actually don’t live my life online. I actually do live a life that’s pretty fucking great – because I’ve made it that way. I am out there and doing rather than always in here and typing. But now, I want to be sure that the things I choose for myself are for me – not my online networks.
Of course, the irony isn’t lost on me that I’m going to be sharing this offline journey through a blog…online. But I see it more as a way to simply be accountable to someone other than myself. To maybe inspire others who blur the lines between offline and online to make choices that are good for them, and them alone. Not to stop sharing entirely, but to stop sharing all the time and in the moment.
I’m not going away completely. After all, this is a great creative outlet for me. And the nature of my profession means I need to maintain some level of connectedness in order to stay current on things that are relevant to my clients. But now, I’m going to be carefully curating what I share and who I share it with. What I deem important to my friends/followers versus what’s important to me. Cutting down the list of people I’m connected with online to allow more time to build – and fix – relationships offline.
Consider this my Eat, Pray, Love adventure away from the interwebs. There better be a James Franco on the other side.