May 29, 2015

Are We Really Living Or Just Documenting Life?

Things are so different now then when I grew up and I am only 33. It wasn't all that long ago that I was hanging out with my friends and exploring the world and its boundaries sans parents for the first time. My summers were spent camping, kayaking, driving around, and having a ton of fun. Do you know the one thing that was missing? Physical evidence of our escapades.

We didn't use cameras back then all that much. Especially not at 16. I didn't even have a cell phone until I was 20 and then it was only a flip phone without any camera or internet on it. Those didn't come out until way later. We lived in each and every moment for what it was worth. We didn't worry about who knew what we were doing. We didn't care what other people thought. We just laughed and squeezed the best out of every last second we had. When we got together again we would talk about the things we had done while making new memories. Those who weren't involved in previous shenanigans had to catch up quickly and suffer through inside jokes and pointed jabs.  Looking back now it was freeing in a way. There was no "keeping up" with other friend groups. No worries about besting someone online or having to show off your exploits. You just lived them and cherished them as they were occurring.

There are some downsides to that though. I have basically no pictures at all from my youth outside my family. Everything I did exists only in the memories of those who participated beyond a few rare photos here and there. For the most part, I am ok with that. I can relive summer nights beside the camp fire with good friends in my mind and I know others out there share the same memories as I do. There is one glaring hole though. All my days and many nights spent cruising around with my best friend, Christy, are now solely mine to bear. She is gone and the only other person who knew the things we did, the laughter we shared, the memories we made, is now gone and it feels as though I could easily have made them all up. Without any physical proof and now nobody else to claim those same memories, who else can I share them with? Who else is out there that can relate?

I love blogging and I love sharing pictures online with my friends and family. It is a great way to have physical proof of the things you have accomplished in life, the times spent with friends and yes sometimes even your failures. It is good to get feedback from others and I look forward to looking through my blog reel every morning for updates from my fellow bloggers. I've connected with people I never would have otherwise and I am so glad for that.

I think, though, that there is a fine line between sharing on social media and living for that ability.

I'm sure everyone out there knows that person, and hopefully it isn't you, who spend every moment videoing or snapping pictures of everything they do without actually every experiencing those very activities they captured. The people who can't even grab a hamburger from Wendy's without checking in on FB. (As an aside I have never checked in anywhere because I find it very creepy) It seems like their entire life is defined by everyone else out there knowing they are living it without ever fully allowing the full exposure to the event to seep into their bodies and minds. . What would happen to them if social media shut down?  How would they be able to define themselves?

The point I'm trying to make is that we should all be out there living life. We should be fully soaking in every moment and making memories that are real and full of all the senses f the experience - the sights, sounds, feeling and smells that go along with it. We should do these things and document them as they merit for later review, but make the documenting a quick aside to the experience of living through it. Put the phone aside and take it all in. Grab a quick pic or video to share and make others happy, but then put it away and allow yourself to be fully engrossed once again. Go live life.

I guess part of this post is stemming from my sense of loss of a great friend. I thought of a question in bed the other night and caught myself thinking "I'll ask Christy, she will remember the name of that bar we went to!" Only I couldn't ask her and nobody else was there so there isn't anyone to ask. I miss those days of just living.


  1. Hugs. Sorry for your loss.

    It sounds to me that what you miss is the connection with your friend, and no matter how much we document what is going on in our lives now, it's not the same if there isn't that one person you can turn to and ask "what the hell was the name of that bar?" And maybe you are grieving a bit in the loss of any future memories you should have been able to share with her.

    It sucks. Rocks. I'm sorry.

    1. Karen - thank you. I miss her a lot and it does really suck. Hopefully it will suck less and less with time. Losing that one friend who has known you since you were 12 is losing a lot. She knew who I was then, who I had wanted to be and who I am know. Nobody else on this planet knew me as well. It is a big loss.

  2. I guess I'm different: I have a long collection of journals where I documented every important moment of my life. They fill two bookcase shelves. Every photo I've ever taken and developed has the date and the name of the place where the photo was taken written on the back. I don't do any of this for anyone else: I simply have this lifelong irrational fear of one day forgetting everything I know. It has not been helped by the fact that I have a grandmother that died of Alzheimer's. So there is a reason for my blogging and my photographs: the blog is far more important to me than any other form of social media (I rarely post on Facebook or Instagram) because it is a collection of memories and thoughts. I would still keep it even if no one read it: there are photos on the blog that I can't access anymore because the computer that they were stored in, died. The blog is my current live journal.

    It's crazy how much our memories of things change over time: I dearly cherish my old journals because they allow me to go back and read those moments and remember exactly how everything really happened, all the little details that later are forgotten. It is incredibly frustrating to me that I don't have photos to illustrate those moments...there is so much that I wish we'd thought to photograph. But at least I have the written stories. Especially the ones that involved my first horse and my grandfather: my grandfather was the only one who witnessed so many of them...and still there are so many that I never found the time to write.

    I am so so very sorry about Christy. From what you've written about her before, she was an amazing human being and a wonderful friend, and I wish words could make it all better. *Hugs*

    1. I always love your replies! You are fortunate to have kept suck great journals. I have some from when I was younger, but they were more teen angsty writings and not about the activities and things I did. I wish now that I had focused more on that. This blog is my way of doing that now with Gem and I have a million pictures to go with it which I am glad for. I am glad that cameras have become a normal part of life. I don't have a single picture of Christy and I together. Not one. I have her senior year picture with a note from her to me not he back which has a prominent place in my wallet, but none of the two of us together. It sucks. It just teaches me to take a lot more pictures.