Caught a brief excerpt from Conan O’Brien’s speech/routine at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner. He said something to the effect of:
for those of you live-tweeting this event, don’t forget to use the hashtag “#incapableoflivinginthemoment.”
Like so much of comedy, it’s only funny because it’s true.
Don’t we see that? People so eager to tweet about some exciting experience they are having that they cut the full experiencing of it short? Like “OMG, I just met the President,” while the Commander-in-Chief is still standing right there in front of you? Or interrupting their kids at play to force a “candid” photo of all the casual fun they are having, using threats and screams and physical violence, if necessary? Rather than genuinely enjoying that experience, and then taking at least a few moments to ponder its impact on you? Why is that?
It would be easy to blame the internet, social networking, or technology. And I think that’s part of it. For some reason, we seem to live our lives with how it will play out on Twitter or Facebook in the forefront of our minds. We read books so we can look smart saying we’ve read those books on Goodreads (which live updates to Facebook, of course). We take pictures of everything in anticipation of posting it somewhere and soliciting casual “so cute” comments from remote acquaintances, or the even more meaningless “likes” we seem to crave. If my third-grade teacher and my second cousin and a former co-worker I barely knew all “like” what I am having for dinner, is that what passes for meaningful human interaction these days?
Is it a form of bragging? Are we hoping to elicit jealousy when we show pictures of our toes dangling over a pool as we sip something delicious, a sunset viewed romantically from some distant and exotic beach, or a beautiful sight-seen vista in Rome, or Rio, or New Zealand? And if we are having as much fun as we seem to be trying to express that we are having, shouldn’t interrupting that moment to take a picture with our smart phone and then tweet, post, and share it with everyone we have ever known be the furthest thing from our mind?
Is technology driving this behavior, or have we always done some form of this? Do smart phones and the internet just provide a different medium for doing something we’ve done all along? Or is this different?
And am I being too cynical? Is this genuine “sharing”? And are these all just the ramblings of a hyper-romantic, prematurely-curmudgeony, change-fearing technophobe with smart-phone envy?