Okay, I took liberties with that quote, which originally comes from the Gus van Sant movie To Die For and actually reads, “You aren’t really anybody in America if you’re not on TV.” It comes to mind because two clients this week have shared stories about something they did last weekend (going kayaking and installing a window air conditioner) that included comments like, “And then we decided to post pictures on Facebook.”
When my family and I were in Hawaii in April, I noticed a creeping self-consciousness after awhile because, simultaneous to taking pictures of some place or event, I would think to myself, If this is a good picture, I’ll put it on our Hawaii blog and this is what I’ll say about it. In other words, I became aware of my slide into leaving the present moment by planning my blog post. My clients, too, were less present for air conditioner installing and kayaking because they allowed themselves to be preoccupied by planning the Facebook posts. I imagine a process something like, While being photographed balancing the air conditioner in the window, the person thinks of the caption that will accompany it: This is me balancing the air conditioner in the window.
I do not mean for this to turn into a rant about Facebook. I believe every generation has its pitfalls, its siren call away from what we are doing right now. But I also believe every generation requires its skeptics, those who say, “I’m not sure it’s a good thing to be so hooked into Facebook (or blog posts) that the planning of the next post occupies one part of our mind while the rest of our mind is shooting the rapids.” That could prove dangerous.
And more than that, if we have had a devastating first relationship and now have a fledgling new relationship, and this new person notices that in the current heat wave, our apartment is brutally hot and goes out to buy a window unit and comes to install it for us because we don’t know how – it seems to me we’d want as much of our brain to be on-board as possible, to notice this moment, this moment where we find evidence that maybe, this time, we’ve found someone who cares about us.