A Mediated Life: If You Don't Take a Picture and Share It, Did It Happen?

© 2012 Sylvia Liu

Yesterday morning, I had one of the most wonderful experiences since I moved to Virginia Beach. I went running with a good friend at the Boardwalk, a 3 mile stretch along a beautiful, sandy beach that is filled with tourists in the summer but is almost empty on a winter morning. It was about 8:30 a.m., well after sunrise, but the sky was still pink and soft. The water was completely calm, not a ripple to be seen. As we ran the 6 mile round trip, we were paced (or outpaced) by hundreds of dolphins swimming about 20 yards offshore in groups of 4 or 5. The whole hour, we kept seeing the dolphins swimming south. Some were playful and jumped out of the water. We couldn't get over how many dolphins we saw and we kept interrupting our run just to marvel at the sight (I've often seen dolphins in the water, but never this close to shore and so many).

But what did I think at least once while running? That I wish I had a camera and how I'd describe the scene on Facebook. Nick Bilton of the New York Times had a similar experience and blogged about it, resolving to enjoy life unplugged from his iPhone. Why do we feel a need to share every special moment online, even with relative strangers? Is it to validate the experience? To cement the memory? To share something excellent in our life?

Zen is about being in the present, in the moment, without the commentary running. I'm not sure I can do that, but it's one of my 2012 resolutions. 

Update 1/17/12: I just came across an article that says this but more eloquently. Social theorist Nathan Jurgensen writes about how social media sites are training people to view life through a "Facebook eye" lens.  

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