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If It Isn’t On Facebook, It Didn’t Happen

June 23, 2013

img_4365Friends I’m worried. What if social media is ruining our ability to actually presently enjoy anything?

On Saturday I went to this thing called Color Me Rad and even though hundreds of people were theoretically there to enjoy themselves, in actuality I was hard pressed to see anyone genuinely having any fun.  Sure people were smiling, laughing, even dancing, but it was only for the cameras, and you know what? That isn’t okay.

Run by the same company who set up the Dirty Dash we attended a few weeks ago, Color Me Rad is a group 5k run event where colored chalk packets are thrown at people until they’ve crossed the finish line.  All sorts of people, my friends included, flocked to downtown Salt Lake City at 7am on a Saturday to make good on their $35 participation fee (in advance. Day of tickets are $50) and claim their t-shirt and Ray-Ban knockoffs before the colorful 3 mile run. I tagged along as the official group photographer, deciding months earlier not to participate because I’m cheap, lazy and admittedly wary of ‘for the memory’ experiences.

Events like these are held all over the country, ranging from Mud Runs to Glow in the Dark 5ks to Electro-Pop dance races. Under the guise of a fundraiser (this one benefited the Salt Lake City Arts Festival), these companies are effectively setting up a giant photo shoot, providing an interesting backdrop for people to pad their Facebook Profiles. No, these runners weren’t there to support the Arts, or even to run a 5k(walking was encouraged), this event was purely to create ‘memories’ that they could use to entertain their social media followers.

imagesI won’t lie, my motivations for running the Dirty Dash a few weeks ago weren’t purely experiential. I was glad when our parents decided to show up to take our pictures; a vain part of me wanted everyone on Facebook to know I had done it. But there is a difference in that running a 10k through mud and obstacles was an accomplishment worth remembering, where as walking 3 miles through clouds of colorful chalk provided no value on it’s own – the only meaning coming through looking at and posting the photos later.

Don’t get me wrong, I love taking photos. I love the thrill of setting up a beautiful shot, the look on my friend’s faces when they like something I’ve created, the act of going through old ones. Taking photos helps me feel a little more secure in my future, allowing me to trust that some of those emotions and feelings I experienced will be around if my sub-par memory needs them later.

images-1But at the same time it isn’t okay when I’m at a concert and I see half the audience recording the performance. At lunch after the Color Run my friends were all on their phones, adding filters and scanning their feeds to see who commented instead of looking up and talking to each other. During the race I watched as people danced along to the dj’s music only to stop the second their friend put away the camera. At the end of the race people grabbed extra color packets and decorated themselves deliberately on their faces and heads for the cameras.

I don’t know what the answer is; I sure don’t plan on putting away my camera or canceling Facebook any time soon (I’m way too addicted to that little red notification button), but I do know that Social Media makes it easy for us to forget how to have genuine experiences. In the midst of Tweeting and Instagraming our lives away, I know I’m willing to make that extra effort to actually enjoy my life, instead of just convincing other people I am. Are you?

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10 Comments leave one →
  1. Cinderslut permalink*
    June 23, 2013 10:37 am

    It’s true, these days one of the thrills of any experience (even monumental life milestones like getting married or having a baby) is being able to post pictures and status updates about it for all your friends and acquaintances to see. Which raises the question of why we want all those people to know what we’re up to…is it maybe because we’re all in a huge competition to see whose life is the most fantastic?

    • June 27, 2013 9:54 am

      But who is the judge? Facebook likes? If I’m competing for something I’m going to do my darnedest to win, but is proving my life is awesome really the same as having an awesome life?

  2. June 24, 2013 8:12 am

    I love taking pictures too and getting covered in color… although I must admit you’ve impressed me with the running. The Color Run came by recently and I just couldn’t bring myself to sign up to run… not into it… But I do agree that social media can take away from the fun. Why not at least go to a middle ground where you can take pictures, but upload them later. Be in the moment, capture memories and enjoy the event while you can!

    • June 27, 2013 9:57 am

      yup. strict rules are the only way. I personally am of the belief that photos should not be looked at the same day. You are allowed a quick check to make sure no one is blinking but that is it. That way you’ll be more likely to enjoy the event day of and enjoy remembering it later instead of just looking again at photos you’ve already seen.

  3. snowwhore permalink*
    June 26, 2013 12:50 pm

    I know what you mean. I remember that after getting married it took a while for me to get back into the swing of real life, and I didn’t post my wedding photos for a while. But people were hounding me about it all the time! Where are your wedding pics? Do you have them yet? Post more!! After I finally put up the wedding photos I took a long break from fb photos. I was sick of it.

    • June 27, 2013 9:59 am

      wedding photos must be like regular photos times a thousand. so much pressure to get them up in a timely manner when you aren’t even the one who took them. odd.

  4. thelittlemerskank permalink*
    June 27, 2013 2:51 am

    Thanks for your post Booty. I totally agree with you. I know it is not an unusual experience but I also get (hypocritically) upset by the role social media plays in our lives. I feel like it is often more about creating a little ideal identity (whatever we view as ‘ideal’) than it is keeping in touch with friends. It makes me sad.

    • June 27, 2013 10:01 am

      being aware is the first step. unfriending people is the second. working hard to use social media as a force for good is third. We can do it.

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