While I have spent the majority of my day today shooting texts to my friends, emailing professors, and editing video footage, my grandparents are down at the river house where there is no wifi, no cell service, and absolutely no cares. Sure, they use their iPhones to keep in touch and are surprisingly tech-savvy. But, unlike me, they don’t have withdrawals over a technology purge every once in a while.
My grandparents socialize over dinner get-togethers and fishing trips. They watch the hummingbirds and each passing sunset out their enormous window that looks out over the farm. They have scrapbooks where they keep their fondest memories. Days on the sandy white shores before the condos were built. The grandkids grinning with their watermelon smiles. Christmas paper shreds and happy people in tacky turtlenecks.
I, on the other hand, constantly have my phone in hand ready to document whatever comes my way. We have so many more photos than they do. I have thousands of blurry photos and screenshots that are irrelevant. Ever so often, I dump my pictures haphazardly on my computer and carry on with my life. There are just so many to deal with. Every three or four years I have a couple of photos printed. Then, the images sit in my drawer in a messy pile.
Mostly, I upload them to Facebook or Instagram as a form of proof. Proof that I went to that incredible place. Evidence that I met that celebrity. The pictures represent what and who is important to me. Or do they?
Our fickle generation is so quick to switch to the latest app, leaving our parents and grandparents in the dust. We don’t take the time to explain the technology to them but instead use it selfishly. Millenials don’t want their secret platforms (Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter) to be revealed to their parents.
We put so much effort into crafting our perfect lives on social media instead of really living them. We pose for pictures instead of enjoying the experience.
What happens to those memories when our computers crash or when our iPhones are stolen? What happens to our photos when our precious platforms suddenly become irrelevant? What if they vanish the way Myspace did? Sure, the internet keeps things “forever”, but who knows how that works exactly. Just because the internet has the photos you lost doesn’t mean you’ll always be able to track them down.
In many ways, technology has made our lives more complex. Now, we not only have to find out who we are as we grow but also decide who we want people to think we are. That may sound superficial but with every post, we create an image for ourselves. A single slip up and we could ruin our entire persona for all to see. No pressure there.
Things are changing so rapidly that we often disregard our future. What will our kids think when they find that selfie? Will we ever regret all those hours we spent concocting the perfect social presence? What will happen to all those memories when the next big thing comes along?
Perhaps we need to start thinking more long-term. Think “What would my grandparents do?”. They would make that tangible photo album look fabulous. They would step back and enjoy the view and inhale that fresh air. They would collect stories and retell them over the dinner table. Doesn’t that sound pleasant?