I scroll through my Instagram feed and stop at a picture. Two girls at a party. Strobe lights flash in the background, dramatically lighting their laughing faces. Their outfits are killer, the angle is just right, the chosen filter highlights their best features. They are rock goddesses. They’re having the time of their lives. Their Saturday night is lightyears and eons beyond any Saturday night I could ever hope to dream about having myself.
The picture says all this without a word.
Some people are good at posting to social media. Not only that, they are good at posting to social media in a way which makes everyone else feel inferior. It is no longer enough to overshare. Now, I have to overshare better than you.
As human beings we have a natural instinct to one-up each other. It comes with the whole “evolution, survival of the fittest” package and is bred in us as we mature. You kicked a ball? I’ll kick it farther. You built a house? I’ll build it bigger. You ran a mile? I’ll run it faster.
The instinct, thanks to the 21st century, has spread to social media. Your tweets must be snarkier, your posts more impressive (“I’m going abroad next semester! Look at my happy relationship! My new car! My swanky job!”), your Instas more vibrant. Through online presence you can build an aura of fulfillment, contentment and superiority that emanates to all those who wish to discover it.
Look at me! I’m so lucky! Aren’t you jealous? #blessed
And the instinct is contagious. Every party, every event, every gathering of two or more people must be documented. Everyone most know what a wonderful time you had, what a beautiful meal you ate, how fabulous the concert was.
At a Neighbourhood concert last August, I stood behind a girl who watched the entire thing on her phone screen. She was recording the songs, you see, and couldn’t stop.
And therein lies the problem. We are so wrapped up in sharing that we forget to live. Melodramatic? Maybe. But how can you enjoy a night out when so much of it is snapping pics to chronicle that night? Heaven forbid something significant occurs and you’ve missed the Kodak moment. If there’s no record of it, did it even happen? Did you even have fun?
Some of the most interesting people I know keep almost no record of their lives. No, they’re not on Facebook. You can find their tweets spaced about a month apart. Instagrams are occasional and, when they do happen, mysterious: A swatch of pavement. A book jacket. The occasional cat.
The oversharing complex is a cry for approval. Most of us answer. I answer. But what if we didn’t? In this day and age, would that still count as living?