Recently, my teenage son has become curious about quantum physics. This has led to many late night discussions, usually when he is being asked to do something like get ready for bed. He knows I cannot resist him when he wants to talk about something that excites him – if you are a parent and are able to resist this sort of thing, rethink your priorities. So, my husband and I listen to him talk about the gravity of light and how on a particularly sunny day, the residents of the city of Los Angeles will be, collectively, about 140 pounds heavier. It’s fascinating stuff. But what’s really got my mind churning its little hamster legs on the squeaky wheel these days is The Measurement Problem.
Simply put, the act of measuring or observation changes your experience. You are part of the system you are observing.
Naturally, this realization took me right to the most logical places: Instagram. Facebook. Twitter. And I don’t just mean that I felt an immediate urge to broadcast my musings upon the interwebs, although, duh.
Let me take a moment here to state that I don’t think there is anything wrong with social media. I respect and understand the people who take periodic breaks from it, but social media is a neutral. It’s neither good nor bad; it is merely another method by which we communicate. I personally enjoy social media very much, probably because I am a social introvert. I enjoy interaction but socializing taxes me, so social media is a great way for me to have interaction without being constantly drained. However, I have noticed that social media has changed the way we experience life.
Ever been on an outing that was fairly mediocre, but that was spectacularly fun when posted/relived online? I have. Have you been at your child’s soccer game and found yourself so focused on taking pictures – to either be shared later or to be live-Instagrammed – that you were missing the actual game? Before you take a bite of that delicious dinner, do you first need to snap a picture and then compose a pithy description so that when you check in online, everyone will see what a wonderful meal you are having? I’m not judging. Been there. Done that. Likely to reoffend.
What I want to ask you, though, is this:
What is the quality of your unwitnessed life? Who are you in those unseen, unTweeted moments? Are you present? Are you calm? Are you happy? Are you giving and receiving the energy you should?
When you share something with the world through the miracle of the Internet (and really, it is wonderful, isn’t it?) are you sharing it with a pure intention? Examples of pure intention, I think, would be genuine emotion, humor, curiosity, a desire for connection, or a true realization. Impure intentions (and we’ve all been there, I bet) would be the desire to hurt, denigrate, or inspire jealousy/negativity/anger.
I’m not suggesting we all throw out our smartphones or go on a Facebook fast. But what I’m going to try to do is be more mindful as I go about the practice of speaking through social media. I’m going to think about what I put out and what I take in, and maybe, just maybe, I will savor a bite of my next fabulous meal before I decide to post it. We’ll see.