I was taking a walk in my neighborhood a couple of weeks ago when I saw a group of boys ahead of me, playing in the street on their skateboards. They were gathered at the top of a rather steep hill, daring each other to be the first to go down. As I got closer, I debated whether or not I should warn them that I thought the incline was too steep for skateboarding. I was a stranger to these boys, and I had no idea whether they would listen to me or not, or how they would react to my interference. Before I could make up my mind, the smallest of them pushed off down the hill, gathering speed as he went. Predictably, he wiped out about half-way down, although he did manage to veer to the left so that he fell onto the grass rather than the asphalt. The other boys ran to him, and after making sure he was unharmed, one of them exclaimed, “Wow, I wish I had taped that! I bet it would get about a million hits on YouTube!”
I supposed I shouldn’t have been shocked by that remark. After all, these boys have been raised in the era of social media, where people think nothing of posting almost every aspect of their personal lives on the internet, and then sit back to see how many “views” and “likes” each post generates. So it’s probably only natural that their main reaction to their friend’s accident should be to post it for the entertainment of others. But I still found it a bit unsettling.
Maybe it’s because I’m mostly an introvert who doesn’t really like to be the center of attention, but I don’t think it’s healthy when people begin to live their lives as if they are constantly on stage. I don’t think that when something happens to us, our first thought should be that it would make a popular post. I think that most of the time, we should be content to simply live our life without the need to show it to other people. (Personally, I don’t want to see a posting of a picture of anyone’s meal, unless it is accompanied by the sincere words, “This tastes great, and if you want me to, I’ll bring you some immediately!”)
Social media can be a great tool for staying in touch with faraway friends and relatives, for getting important information out quickly to those who need to know it, and even for posting those special moments that are truly meant to be shared. But if we share too much, too often, we run the risk of living our lives as if we are constantly seeking the approval of others for almost everything thing we do, say and believe. And call me old-fashioned, but I just don’t think that’s a good thing.