Monday, February 1, 2016

Stop Capturing The Moment, Start Living The Moment

There's a new bright trend in modern society. Championed by millennials, parroted by marketers. That people value experiences over products. That people are more willing to share than to own. That people are shifting away from Western capitalism to Zen-Buddhist communalism.

What a heart-warming vision of humanity. Is it really happening?

Of course not. It's only a fantasy. We're as selfish and shallow as ever.

Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?

Our Everyday Experiences, Captured

It's no coincidence that our new-found appreciation for experiences arose around the same time that we possess the ability to instantly capture and share our experiences. It's causation. Thanks to smart phones and social media, we can now tell the whole wide world what we're up to, right here right now.

Our experiences are no longer stuck in our fading memories and photo albums (that our parents could only really show off when a guest comes by our home). They're all neatly framed up on the Internet for you and anyone else that you allow to see, to see.

A selfie next to the Eiffel Tower is worth more than a Chanel bag. A selfie is hard proof that you've been to Paris. A Chanel bag? Well, anyone could just buy it off the rack from any of its stores worldwide. A bundle of packaged experiences allows people to show off, far easier and more effective. When you buy a bag, the opportunity to show off is limited to people you meet in person. But when you post a selfie on Facebook, it gets plastered on the Newsfeed of your friends.

(Yes, you can also post photos of stuff you buy on social media. But this is such a blatant and unnatural way of showing off that doing so would elicit more hates than likes. Photographs are for scenes - been there, eat that, hung out with the cool kids. And we love making a scene.)

But the more we try to capture the moment, the less we live the moment.

No photo? Then you weren't there. Not enough 'likes' for your photo? Then you didn't have a good enough time. Our own memory means nothing. Validation from others means everything.

Our Everyday Experiences, Curated

And then there are those who go a step further - the curators. This is where the use of filters, cropping, hashtags and other fancy graphical tools come into use. It's not enough to capture moments; they also need to be 'curated'. Curators can spend hours long on their digital devices, painstakingly selecting and editing their 'content' in the best possible light to gather maximum 'likes'.

Yes, their experiences are 'content', and the worth of their experiences are measured by the number of 'likes'. People portraying themselves as if they were... 'products'. Well, not 'portraying', more like 'marketing' actually. Yes, it's a mad world we live in, where people market their experiences as products. How tragic.

Want to truly live the moment, everyday? Then give your experiences your full attention. Put away your cameras. Forget about angles and lightings. Focus with your own five senses.

It's alright to take photographs of truly momentous occasions, like your wedding night or reaching the peak of Kilimanjaro. But taking photos of everyday stuff? Don't kid yourself. No one really gives a shit (except maybe creepy stalkers, your overprotective Mom, your jealous ex and other sad insecure souls who keep bugging you to follow them back).

I kept 'liking' her photos, but she never 'liked' me back. Bitch.

Our Everyday Experiences, Controlled

By capturing our experiences, we think we have greater control over them. That we can pin our experiences on a board like pretty butterflies, to admire over and over again. That we can be proud 'owners' of our experiences.

Ironically, truth is quite opposite from theory. For the more we try to 'control' something, the more that something ends up controlling us. It happens all the time with products. We let our clothes and cars to define who we are. We are chained to the very homes we thought would set us free.

And the more we try to curate our experiences, the more we treat our lives as a show. Like a highlight reel crying out for hundreds of thumbs-up. Like an art exhibition desperate for rave reviews from critics. The sum of our lives is filtered through the roving eyeballs of others, weighted by their fickle judgments. We let our actions be dictated by the audience - our friends, our peers, our social media followers.

Instead of caring about how good we feel, we care more about how good we look (or rather, how good people think we look). Instead of being happy for ourselves, we need others to feel happy for us.

In our constant chase to control our experiences, we instead lose control of our own lives, our identities, and yes, sometimes even our sanities.

Cherish Your Experiences - That's All You Need

Life's a stage. Shake off your strings. Don't be a puppet.

Dance to your own tune. Dance even if the camera isn't rolling. Dance like no one's watching. Dance your heart away.

Just cherish your experiences. You don't need to capture, curate and control them. For if they are truly worth remembering, they'll burn brightly in your memory and the memories of people touched by them.

So what if memories fade away? We can always make new ones, better ones, more memorable ones.

Live every moment as if you can't relive them again. Live every moment as if you can't remember them tomorrow.

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