My friend is having homemade vegan banana and ham pancakes for breakfast.
My aunt’s dog just learned to pronounce her name. My colleague supports gay marriage but had problems with keeping his resolutions today.
Every day we create beautiful experiences that we want to share with like-minded people, because they are worth putting out in the world…to get some “likes.” The slight hope exists that if our shares are impressive, then our life is impressive.
But I keep reading these amazing status updates from others and I wonder whether my life is as fantastic as theirs. I feel forced to make my cats do somersaults and take a video of them, encourage my neighbour’s children to say wise things and make a meme from it or produce food that looks like it is sold in a jeweller’s shop.
Social media puts me under pressure.
I go hunting for moments that are shareable. Every second, I fear missing something that could enhance my profile.
Sharing things online, private things, has just as many advantages as sharing a cause. It creates a feeling that I am not alone in my crusade for vegan ham, and it triggers conversations.
I am definitely going to ask my aunt about her dog teaching method, so that my cats will be able to say my name, too. We can even meet up—wait, I’ll create a Facebook event.
When I went to Kenya, I wanted my friends and family to be able to follow what I was doing. I wanted to let them take part in my experiences.
Therefore I uploaded and shared a selection of my photos regularly. Then, at some point I realised that I was taking photos in order to upload and share them. I didn’t capture the moment because I myself was moved or impressed or wanted to remember it, but I took the photos with the intention to share them online, hoping to impress others.
That is when I stopped. Nowadays, I hardly take photos.
I take notes. Handwritten, on paper.
And when I go through them, I remember secretly what I felt in that moment and why I was touched or surprised. I catapult myself back into that experience, and I’ve learned that I don’t need the appreciation, opinions or admiration of others to do that.
I didn’t go on a complete social media diet, and I won’t completely vanish from other people’s screens, but I am learning to focus more on the now, without wondering how I will share that moment, later.
I am not totally against sharing stuff on social media. But even if over-sharing can help somebody to express her very own identity, for me it is important just the same to be content within myself, without having to get acknowledgment from anyone who happens to pass by my profile.
Not sharing every other meal and encounter and experience and article online made my life become less stressful. When I thought about what to post on social media all the time, I missed the moment.
Social media directed my life.
I was no longer in full control of what happened to my precious time. I’’s still a daily struggle to win back my life, to gain back control and, most importantly, start enjoying the moment—the little pieces of daily happiness.
They are meant for myself—to strive, to be inspired and to make the best of them. They are my treasures and I find gratefulness within myself. Having something for me only turns my heart into a sacred spot , holding these experiences.
May I challenge you? Keep it for yourself.
Not that we don’t want to hear from you.
We and the world on the web are craving other peoples’ experiences, because we are looking for inspiration and motivation…and your private stuff might just offer that. But that is just what it is: your private stuff.
Your experiences don’t become better or more worthy if they gets more likes. And if you meditate on them instead of uploading them, you can deepen the experience so much more. Bury them in your heart, instead of adding them onto a pile of other social media noise. Keep them in your soul, keep them in your memory and keep them for yourself to truly value those daily miracles.
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Editor: Catherine Monkman