Why you should put down your phone and enjoy life in real time

Shae Slaughter

Imagine being anxious, continually typing new ideas and then slowly erasing them character by character. You can’t decide because you are worried about fitting in, about being funny or cool. What are you doing? You’re writing a caption on social media. 

Haha, right? It seems like a joke, but is it? I’d bet that each and every person who uses social media regularly has, at the very least, hesitated before posting a photo, a tweet or a new blog. But why? There could be a ton of reasons, but I would argue a very simple idea: We want to be awesome.

I see it all the time, and I have to admit I am guilty of this myself. I’ll have friends ask me to get closer so that we can get a picture for Snapchat. So we’ll take it. And then we’ll take it again and again. It has to be perfect. Of course I want it to look good, but what are we missing while we are busy taking these pictures? 

Quite simply, we’re missing life. We are always so concerned with documenting our awesomeness on social media that time flies by. I see this frequently in Snapchat stories, an entire concert documented in 10-second clips. I would bet that you have had a similar experience if you are one of 173 million daily Snapchat users, according to a study done by Omnicore. 

I know that I did the same thing when I went to see Beyoncé in Chicago. It was easily one of the best nights of my life and definitely the best concert I’ve ever been to. I wanted to document every single minute of it, and to be honest, I wanted to show other people how great it was, too. I took a ton of videos and posted way too many of them on Snapchat, but it was “awesome.”

When the night ended and I looked back at all of the videos I had taken, they weren’t nearly as good as the concert was the first time. They were out of focus and the sound was unclear. Over a year later, most of those videos have been deleted because in the end I never watched them and they just took up storage on my phone. On average, people under the age of 25 spend 40 minutes of their day looking at Snapchat, according to that same Omnicore study, and I would bet I was above average on that day. 

I could have just as easily kept the memories in my head and saved 40 minutes of my time. Not to mention I’m sure I would have enjoyed the concert even more if I hadn’t been so worried about keeping my camera in focus or capturing the perfect 10 seconds. Don’t get me wrong, I still love social media and all of the benefits it provides, but I’m starting to look at it through a different lens or “filter,” if you will, pun intended. 

Maybe I’m the only one who feels this way, but I think it’s something to keep in mind. Is it really worth it to keep looking at things through a tiny screen? Your life is awesome, but you don’t have to document it, showcase it or prove it. Appreciate what you have now because in the end you won’t be able to replay it like a Snapchat.