Why The Constant Need To Document Our Lives Online?
We can't go on a walk, or a run, or a bike ride without sharing photos that we did so. We can't read a book without sharing a photo of the book we are reading. We can't drink a latte without first sharing a photo of it. We can't eat without sharing a photo of the food we are eating.
We I can't listen to music without sharing what song we're I'm listening to. We can't live our lives without documenting a part of it — if not all of it — online.
Why? Why are we doing all this? Why do we feel the need to do all this? Does anybody else think that's not normal? I've been asking myself those questions for months now.
There's lots of advice on what to do to take control of your data online. For instance, you should have all your blog posts and photos under your domain name, so you keep control of them. And if you're not concerned about that, there's lots of advice on what platform is the best for photo-blogging, long-form blogging, micro-blogging, etc... There's all sorts of advice regarding the best ways to manage your data online. But no one seems to be asking the question, why?
Why do we need to post photos of our lives online? Why do we need to document everything that's happened to us? Why do we need to have all of this data online?
In an age where we are more connected than ever through the internet, why is it that we feel more alone, especially when we are offline? In an age where we can add hundreds of people to our friends list, why is it that we feel like we don't exist if we're not posting online?
Is it because we feel like we are missing out on everything happening online? Is it because of FOMO? Is that why we keep posting status updates, keep sharing photos, keep writing blog posts?
Or is it because we feel like we don't exist if we don't see a piece of ourselves online? Is it because we feel like we don't exist if no one comments or likes our posts online?
“Hey, hey, look over here, I've uploaded a new photo, I've shared a new blog post, I've got a new Instagram story, I'm playing a new video game, etc... I'm still alive. Talk to me.”
I say that, because I believe that's one of the reasons driving this constant need to share online — to remind other people that we exist.
At least that's the case for me. Is it the same for you?
I still can't wrap my head around it. The internet has allowed us to connect with more people than we could ever be connected with, on a personal level. And yet, we feel more isolated than ever before.
And I think that highlights another issue. Our basic human need for social connection is not getting fulfilled. Not with the way we live our lives nowadays.
Because it's so easy to connect with other people online, that's what we end up doing. But I can't help but feel like, that's why it's not enough. The online connections and interactions we engage in, are not as fulfilling or satisfying, as the personal interactions that used to be a staple of our everyday lives.
Of course the pandemic is not helping things right now. But we have been living this way before the pandemic. It's not like this is only a problem now.
No matter how many photos we upload, how many status updates we make, how many blog posts we share, there's still something missing. We're still constantly checking that feed. We're still waiting for those likes to come in. We're still waiting for the confirmation that let's us know, that other people know we're still alive.
On the flip side, all you need is just one game of Settlers of Catan with family and friends. The resulting satisfaction from that social interaction is... immeasurable.
I've been thinking about how the older generation lived. With no smartphones in their pockets, they didn't have portable cameras to bring with them when they ventured out into the real world. It also means that even if they brought a camera with them, there was no way to instantly share a photo afterwards. And even when they got home, there was no social media app or website waiting for them to upload all the photos they took that day. So, I'm thinking that they most likely didn't have these constant urges to share everything online.
To be able to go out, do things and live life without feeling the urge to share everything online — how liberating must that have been? I would love to be able to experience that — to not even have the urge to share online a beautiful photo that I just took. To not even have the urge to share the really good song that I'm listening to right now. To not even have the urge to write a blog post about the crazy thing that happened to me or to the world today.
However, knowing what I know now, it seems impossible to go back to that naive way of living.
I believe that the technologies in the world that we live in today, has altered the way we think about life. And more importantly, it has altered what it means to be alive. It is not enough now to know you're alive. You also have to prove it to the rest of the world too — because otherwise, it feels like you don't exist.