How Social Media Has Robbed Us of the Privilege of Not Knowing

 

How often is it that we are aware of ourselves in a moment?

I say this as I sit in the backseat of my mom’s car as we drive through the rolling green hills, brushed with yellow and mossy-green tones.

hills

The blankets of green are soft, warm, fuzzy and cuddled up to the bodies of mountains that lie beneath them. The two make a cute couple.

The hills this time of year don’t stay green for long though.

Soon, rain will stop visiting and the land will become parched for the summer.

While scenic drives like these can be found all over the Central Coast, I’ve found that it is not often that I sit back and watch my surroundings and tune in to myself.

Instead, I find myself scrolling through my phone—on Twitter for the latest news on the election, on Instagram for the newest photo of my friend’s exotic vacation or on Facebook for the most innovative way to turn breakfast cereal into a baked good.

And my scrolling behavior follows me to the classroom, to my dorm room, to every place in my life.

And I’m not proud of that.

I’ve realized that I am not as fully aware of how I am feeling in a moment as I should be.

Moments in my life, specifically, in times when I’m waiting in line for something, I’m not aware.

My constant checking and scrolling habits are sucking the opportunities out of my life like plants being eradicated from the earth.

With every double tap to my touch screen and every scroll and refresh, I enter the life of someone else.

I watch and skim through posts of others’ lives, the things they’re seeing, the things they’re eating, the things they’re doing.

Meanwhile, I could be doing something else.

I could be waiting in line for my coffee, taking in my surroundings.

Listening for the loud whispers of the coffee machine and the clink-clanks of the fancy devices used to steam milk.

Watching and standing peacefully is what I could be doing at that moment.

Because, when you think about it, how often is it that you find someone    sitting back in a chair with a smile on her face, happy to be soaking up the sun?

How often is it that you see someone in pure bliss?

Not very.

Go to a restaurant, and you’ll see a couple who has finished their dinner and they’re both looking down at their iPhones. SCROLLING.

On these devices, we find what our friends have been doing and scroll endlessly to double-tap each photo.

But what does this do when you actually catch up with that friend over coffee? Do you ask them how their spring break was, knowing from Snapchat all the things they ate and did?

What social media has done is stripped the surprise away from life.

Do you ever recognize the privilege in knowledge, in the unknown?

Knowledge is so easily obtained now, with Google, Facebook and every other search engine site out there. Whether it’s looking up directions when you get lost, looking for the best restaurant on a vacation, or just seeing what your friend is up to, you always have unlimited access to this knowledge.

Sometimes though, I’d like not to know.

When was the last time I got lost and drove the roads just to drive and find my way back home without Siri?

When was the last time I didn’t know what my friend did over summer vacation without having to ask?

When was the last time I found the best place to eat without consulting Yelp and other online reviews?

Sometimes, it would be nice to NOT know.

And so it is a goal of mine this quarter, to know less about what’s going on outside of me, and more about how I’m feeling inside, in a moment.

I will think twice before I click the Instagram app.

I will think twice before I go on a mindless scrolling rampage.

I will be more conscious of my automatic behavior to look at my phone and go onto Facebook.

I will resist the compulsion to constantly know, and for a change, be happy I don’t know.

 

*feature image credit: brogan.com

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