It seems to me as if we’ve changed our definition of what is real to accommodate an economy based on the currency of sharing. It’s an economy that seems to me to measure an event’s value by the number of likes and retweets it gets. An economy that changes the way we make decisions because we start to seek out the things that have the highest “share value”, while we shun the quiet, everyday activities that make up life.
As I graze through my Facebook feed at night, I munch on the extraordinary and exciting lives of others. A night on the tiles with the girls. A hike through the wilderness. A business meeting that came good. A birthday celebration. A funny thing someone’s kid said. And of course, the photos. The endless, happy photos of dancing, smiles, mountains, wine, travels, more wine, and lots and lots of babies. Everyone is having an amazing time in an amazing world.
Twitter shows me something slightly different. I see people bestowed with bucket loads of ambition and success, and I can’t help but envy them. Through Twitter I can see just how blinking smart everyone else is. And as inspirational as that is most of the time, I sometimes look at how high the bar seems to be set and then I just want to sit down and take some deep breaths for a while.
But everyone knows that’s not the whole story, of course. No one says “I’m lonely” on Twitter. No one uses Facebook to post their inner most thoughts on the state of their marriage or parenting issues or trouble at work or the future or the past. We all know it’s not real but we have to keep up the facade. If one of us were to break down, we would all lose the ability to believe we are who we pretend to be, and that’s not something we’re prepared to do.
So maybe it’s time for a change. Maybe it’s time to stop consuming so much of other people’s perfectly manicured public lives, and start living our own just that little bit more. I wonder what would happen if I measured the value of an activity not by how great the photo opportunity is, but by how much value it adds to who I’m with — my friends, family and loved ones.
I think I’m just worrying a bit that if I keep looking at my life through other people’s eyes, I might go blind to the things that really matter.