We live in a world monopolized by over-stimulation thanks to these devices that are pretty much attached to our hand. It is a world lead by illusion. Whether it's watching a SnapChat, TikTok or someone’s most recent epic adventure on Instagram. We are constantly (or at least what may feel like constantly) find ourselves caught in the Inter-Web of unrealistic expectations.
Hourly, we are overwhelmed and sucked into the "lens" of other peoples lives. At which point it becomes different to remain untangled from that and caught up in the glamour. The problem is that it is an altered perception that leads to a skewed, misconception of what reality should be or what it could be.
These repeated exposures/encounters both subtly and dramatically alter our metric of ‘reality versus expectation.’ Deterring, the expectation so much so that people often suffer from the feeling of not achieving the utmost climax during whatever they are in pursuit of.
To have you see my way of thinking the best theme I can pull out of my had right now is hiking. There are a plethora of reasons why someone may enjoy hiking. It can range from but is not limited to: enjoying the hike itself, being out in nature, wanting a beautiful view at the summit, connecting with yourself, connecting with the earth, a fun way to exercise, getting to the top of the mountain for the perfect picture, and the list goes on
I follow a lot of out door enthusiasts on my Instagram. It makes my feed so beautiful as it is flooded with people doing these phenomenal hikes. It then got me thinking: are they doing it for the epic adventure to get to the top so that they can bask in that satisfaction of achievement at the summit. Or is it so that they could capture this picture and then share with the world how amazing their life is? Along the way, did they enjoy the hike or did they find themselves cursing or muttering under their breath "when the f*** will we be at the top? Is the documented and shared picture a truth or an illusion of the experience they had?
It is exhausting to think about this let alone to live this. Imagine your life and the amazing moments that comprise it. Can you think of a moment where you expect the outcome of some event to be held to the same standard of what you believe the outcome should be? This outcome becomes a preconceived notion planted by something you may have seen online. As a result, it dulls your emotions because reality has fallen short of these expectations.
I often hear people referring to Instagram in a form of a mantra “do it for the Gram!” We as a species, especially millennial's' and those younger, fall prey to the culture “if you didn't take a pic, did it even really happen?” This shift was both subtle and rapid. I know that its paradoxical but what I mean is that I cannot pinpoint a single moment in time where this shift happened. All I can recall is that when it happened, it happened really fast.
Throughout my travels: I am often faced with watching other tourists mull about their life. More often than not I will observe a people who have a flat, expressionless affect, walk up to a “pretty” or “gramable” spot, turn to the camera and paint this strained smile on their face to portray this "amazing" moment that they will share with the world later.
What I do observe is this false enthusiasm for whatever moment they felt the need to document. It is almost as if the picture took some of the fun out of the moment. Now, this isn't always the case, I am generalizing here but I hope you get my point. Perhaps you have seen a very similar scenario in your everyday life?
This happened to me last weekend with my mom. We were at the VanDeusen Botanical Gardens in Vancouver for their charming Festival of Lights event. As we were walking through the gardens it was hard to ignore the amount of people starring down at their phones. So much so that they were walking into both of us. We would be walking through a narrow area and get to a stop. I would ask loudly "why have we stopped" and more on one occasion someone would reply "oh, because these people stopped to take a picture."
This place was really beautiful, I don't fault anyone for trying to document it. Hell, I did too! What did grate on my nerves was how many people were so absorbed in their phones that they forgot to care about all the other people around. The people I am talking about were so absorbed that they would stop suddenly, unaware and uncaring of the fact that they just walking into someone, or they stepped on others, or forced others to stop and wait while their "unofficial" photo shoot commenced.
What this has taught me is the power of disconnecting. When I travel I use it as an “excuse” to disconnect from the square on my phone. This always allows me to be more conscious and present in my surroundings. When I do take my phone out to document a moment, I try to be more purposeful in my intent. This allows me to remain connected in this moment, rather than being taken away by the distraction of my phone.
Understanding that social media is often an illusion that impacts our expectation is hugely relevant.
I use social media as a platform to share general themes of my emotions, my journey and my experiences in this world. I utilize it as an outlet to organize, sift through, share and educate others on the topics I encountered that week, day or moment. And I know many others who do the same with the same or similar intent.
The flip side to this coin is those individuals who use social media to paint the "idea" of who they are or shape a false mold lens of what they want others to think their life is. However, my fear is that if not everyone is aware of the powers of persuasion and illusion that is the inter-web, it will shift our expectations to the point where its unattainable.
Love by disconnecting can be applied to a relationship or by means of social media. What this means for me is that when I do choose to document (for social media) or choose to use share my energy and share space with those I love; I am using it in an efficient, less draining way.
Equipping myself with the ability to be more present in all I do. I too have chosen to adopt this love -- for others and myself --by disconnecting mentality to allow for optimal energy usage.
Instead I challenge you to be more present, to post with intention, and to capture your beautiful moments that are just that "beautiful moments." Taking the time to disconnect from your phone to be able to restore your energy tanks. To allow a brain cleanse that resets the expectations within life so that when exciting moments occur you can ride the wave whole-heartedly.