Recently I heard the argument that my generation, that of the millennials, spend too much time ‘capturing’ the moment as opposed to living ‘in’ the moment. We are too caught up with making sure our social media is depicting the fun we are having instead of fully experiencing the fun.
As condescending or negative as this argument may appear, I believe it is 100 percent valid.
But, is this a bad thing?
My generation has grown up side-by-side with social media and have developed hand-in-hand. As social media created more outlets for sharing, we developed the skills to use them. As social media offered ways to feed our narcissism, we were happy to oblige.
However, is this truly narcissism or censoring our social media to make it seem like we are having a great time 24/7?
Yes and no.
An article by Nina Friend in the Huffington Post states ways Millennials can take back their lives. In her article, she states “we [millennials] care more about our cyber selves than our actual selves” and that “we have the ability to remove unattractive photos from our Facebook timelines so our friends only see us when we look good.”
Social media has made the photo album obsolete. Why would I, an average person, waste time and money to capture photos, print them, and organize them in a photo album I can only share with those I come into direct contact with to? I wouldn’t. And being that the virtual photo album has replaced that of the physical, why would anyone keep bad pictures? I cannot think of one instance of my parents keeping bad photos in their albums, so why should my generation do the same? Yes it can be perceived as narcissistic editing, but we are not the first generation to do so.
With the ease of sharing and uploading, my generation uses social media as the new diary and photo album. We can share what we want with ourselves and the world with immediate gratification. Yes, there is a bit of Pavlov’s dog experiment where with each upload, we like to receive the notification, but what it really comes down to is ease of access and recording our lives for later, nostalgic review.
Friend continues in her article saying we need to “focus on the experience, not the reaction” with reaction referring to the social media response to our depictions of what we are doing. If anything, I am a prime example. I take pictures on my phone all the time because I never know when I will want to relive the experience or show someone what I saw later. Is it necessary to take pictures all the time? Probably not. Have I been asked by my own family why I take so many pictures? Definitely yes. But maybe one day I’ll upload them in a fit of nostalgia or I’ll think of the perfect caption and upload the picture to social media so I can share my experiences with others. Regardless of my picture taking, I guarantee I’ll brainstorm a caption for approximately five minutes before uploading to ensure the most amount of people appreciate the fact I am sharing an event in my life through the form of ‘likes’.
Friend makes very valid points such as if you find yourself doing something just to prove to others that you did it, rethink your intentions. Now this is where it gets tricky. Yes social media has taken the new form of diaries and photo albums as far as recording our day-to-day activities, but this goes back to the Pavlov narcissism we’ve developed thanks to “likes,” “favorites,” etc.
From my interaction with other generations personally, I have found that millennials are leading the crusade into virtual recording, Generation Z (those born after 2000) are following the example of the Millennials and getting involved with social media at younger ages (sometimes before double digits). Generation X (born between 1965 and 1980) is constantly playing catch-up. Trying to maintain the same proficiency as the younger generations to maintain a sense of being tech savvy and youthful. Lastly, Generation Baby Boomer (1946 – 1964) and the Mature Generation (1927 – 1945) share some of the ‘catch-up’ traits of Generation X, but mostly only keep up with social media – if at all – because their siblings, children, or peers have pressured them into using it because they feel like they have to.
The above description is exemplified at all of my family functions. My cousins born in the 80’s and 90’s check our social media or tweet about the occasion, those born in the 2000’s talk about pop culture and Instagram, my dad and his siblings discuss the ease of access of Facebook and keeping in touch with old classmates/keeping an eye on their own and each other’s children – my dad proudly resisting the ‘need’ for any form of social media, and my grandparents sharing the Facebook page my aunt made for my grandma but having no clue how to use it other than scrolling and accidentally ‘liking’ something from time to time.
The generation prior to us took photographs, we take (profile, Facebook, Instagram) pictures. The generation before us kept journals and diaries, we maintain blogs and tweets. The argument is not whether we are living in the moment or not. As technology has progressed to virtual foundations, so have our tools to record our lives.
The Hashtag Milestone
I recently went to a wedding that made me realize the practicality and cool-factor a simple hashtag could have.
At the wedding, guests were encouraged to take pictures and not just take them, but share them. The bride came up with a hashtag for everyone to use on their Instagram posts of the wedding. The hashtag created a forum for sharing and contributing between the wedding attendees and a way for those unable to attend to keep up with the festivities.
Instead of wondering if our distant relative would ever develop the pictures they were taking and hope we would eventually see the physical copy, everyone was able to receive almost instant gratification by simply checking the hashtag.
This hashtag also made it easy for the couple and attendees the security in knowing if they liked someone’s pictures but didn’t know their name, they could simply search for the hashtag at any time and easily find them again.
This simple hashtag technique of using #(last name of couple)wedding worked amazingly for this event and introduced me to a concept I had never really thought of – creating an event specific hashtag. Yes, I have seen this done for award shows and other television broadcasts and trends, but I never thought of making one for a life event, or something I was doing.
Does this open the floodgate for what I see as my major life events? #LastFirstDayOfSchool #MyGraduation, #ACarruthWedding, etc.? Will this create a new trend of people hashtagging everyday events as well, or has that already happened? #AlexsFirstBlogPost #InternsUnite #Blessed.
Regardless of where the trend goes, the event-specific, even personal event, hashtag is here to stay, as exemplified by the countless blogs and articles dedicated to teaching others how to make event specific hashtags and where to find popular ones. Below are just a few of them.
A Hashtag Directory:
It seems as though whether you are at a conference, a retreat, a sporting or entertainment event, or even personal milestones, there is a hashtag for it encouraging group interaction and sharing.
It’s so easy to live in the moment these days. I wonder what it will look like in 10 or 15 years? How are you using social media to live in the moment?