When we were young, we kept diaries to record our thoughts and feelings, victories and losses. Now we use Instagram to digitally and wordlessly immortalize those moments with photos and videos that invariably capture us from our good sides. When the camera is unkind, we take to Facebook to indulge in first person exultation using lazily egotistical acronyms and sentence fragments. With whatever is at our disposal, we will do what it takes to freeze past moments into idealized nuggets of self-promotion, casting our nets wide for the largest possible audience. And we fool ourselves into believing that each individual comprising that audience is mesmerized by the dazzling spectacle of a life so impressively lived.
But each individual comprising that audience is too distracted to take it all in because they are busy doing the exact same thing.
A life can be lived or it can be recorded, one always at the exclusion of the other. It can be lived or it can be translated into hyperbolic language. Multi-tasking is a nonsensical term. You can watch the watery russet sun sink beneath the horizon or you can catch a glimpse of it in your periphery and set to planning how you’ll express it in poetic verse. The choice is yours, but you can’t choose both.
Might it not be a welcome relief to reclaim our humanity with eyes that see beyond the range of our iPhones? With ears that hear beyond the insecure noise in our heads?
Are we people or are we cameras? Are we genuine souls or are we amateur advertising executives with a clientele of one?
Our refusal to scan for vistas whose foothills don’t begin inside our own narcissistic minds has cemented our stubbornly myopic worldview. If we can’t gloat over our moments of altruism and strokes of genius, then we aren’t interested in having them. All because we’ve never experienced the joy inherent in human connection and honest vulnerability. Not once in our lives have we allowed ourselves to be so open and curious. Evolution isn’t always fortuitous as it follows the path of least resistance, which is precisely where we choose to lead it. We are leading it into our machines and handheld devices which then become an extension of ourselves; indispensable gauges that tell us whether we’re being paid sufficient attention.
While I type these words, a squirrel runs along the wrought iron fence bordering the property. He stops, lifts his head and savors the light breeze for a long moment. A beautiful moment that will never be recorded by anyone save the blogging voyeur two stories up who’d rather talk of squirrels than accomplishments because it reinforces his carefully crafted public facade.