How often is too often to change your profile photo on Facebook? Most people would agree that three times per day is too much. But what about once a month – or once a week? Still too much, right? How did we end up in a culture where obsessive self-documentation on social media is normal?
We think of those who overshare on social media as ‘attention-seekers’. Either, we reason with ourselves, this person who posts photos of their café breakfast has a very, very good life of which we should be jealous. Or their life lacks excitement to the point where posting a photo of their smashed avocado on toast is the highlight of their day. Either way, we think, there’s something wrong with this person.
How did we get here? We live in such a materialistic time that we’ve learned to reduce our experiences in life to ‘snapshots’. When I used to use Twitter obsessively, my days were spent calculating how I could turn every mundane event in my day into a witty 140-character tweet. On days when I had no plans, I would make plans so that I had something to tweet about.
As much as we all love social media, there’s an overwhelming impression that it has cheapened the human experience. People don’t do things for the feeling anymore; they do them so they have something to post on their timeline. In a way, we think of the days before social media as a time when people really lived.
When the afternoon they made a lemon meringue pie with their mother was just a memory, not a status update. When the photograph of a man proposing to his girlfriend was put on the mantle, not everyone’s newsfeed.
What are we doing when we journal our lives on social media? Effectively, we are creating a diary of our time on earth. We are crafting our own obituaries, so that when we die, others can look back and finally feel the significance of that day we ate some really good avocado toast.
Read more at theguardian.com.
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