Why Social Media is Robbing Us of Our Experiences - Jenna Kutcher

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Why Social Media is Robbing Us of Our Experiences

Jenna Kutcher 

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I’ve been meaning to write this post for a long time. It’s one of those posts where you hope you can tie your words up in a neat little bow and deliver it in a way that somehow strikes a chord with the population and that you they think you are an utter genius. The truth is, there isn’t always a way to make things look perfect because life just isn’t perfect and that is kind of the beauty in it. I’m not the first to write about this, in fact, I feel like I am one of the last – these aren’t ideals I have invented or things that I came up with on my own, more so reflections that I’ve had about social media as of lately.

We are a culture who loves to share their lives, we want people to see what cool things we’ve been doing and we want to shout from the rooftops that we are cool. We love getting the immediate affirmation that we are doing something right, we are a people who are too connected to our phones and not connected enough to reality. We spend more time sharing experiences with screens than we do with people. We constantly snap photos of memories that I am not sure we are ever present in. We are too focused with documenting every moment that we go through life with one eye on the screen and never actual experience the moments in front of us. We fear our minds aren’t capable of saving these precious memories and so we document them ourselves, just in case. We focus on taking photos to share our lives with strangers and ignore the people in our presence. We feel obligated to share every bit of our lives from celebrations to grief, promotions to struggles, so that we may be validated or affirmed through “likes” and “comments.” (All of these things are only heightened when you own a business that is fueled by social media.) It’s crazy really, but it’s so, so real. 

A month ago we spent a long weekend up north at the cabin. Our family cabin is nestled in the woods along a cranberry flowage and conveniently have zero cell reception for us. While at first I couldn’t imagine life without my phone for four days (let’s be honest, it never leaves my side) I knew that my soul needed to quiet the noise – because that’s all it really is, noise. For four days Drew and I enjoyed the lake, took naps, went on walks, floated on the water, ate food and never once did we tweet/instagram/snapchat about it. In fact, we actually soaked in the moments without feeling the need to share them with the world. When is the last time you did something wonderful and made memories without sharing them with the world? Why are we a generation that feels like everyone needs in on our memories in order to make them valid? The truth is, no one really cared how fresh the watermelon was or how many dice games I lost… except for the people I was sharing these moments with. You know, the ones right in front of my face (not the ones whose faces dance on my phone screen.)

It’s crazy really, how we feel so “disconnected” without our phone but the reality is that we are actually more connected than ever when we just put it down and shut it off. I was with the most important people to me, emails could wait, Facebook would be there when I got home, and those pretty square photos of Instagram were still there to scroll through when I got service again. Why is it that we need that affirmation that what we are doing in our lives (or eating/styling/shooting) is good? Why do we gauge our worth on how many people gave us the thumbs up? Why do we let that dictate the moments we think are share-worthy? It’s crazy really but we all see that mentality taking over. I am the guiltiest of this and yet it still continues but it’s something I have been much more conscious of since our time up north. I spend way too much time on my phone, I analyze the feedback from posts, I feel the need to stay busy and current on social media for my businesses. I sit on the couch next to Drew playing on my phone and ignoring our time together – I do all of this, all of the time. I am just like you. 

So how do we make a change? First and foremost, find friends that make you forget to look at your phone. Go on dates and leave your phone in the glovebox. Charge your phone in the kitchen and set an actual alarm clock (yes, those still exist) Give yourself a full hour in the morning before logging into social media. Stop notifications on your phone and delete apps that are time sucks for you… there are a million ways to start the shift! While I used to shiver at the idea of a “social media free” weekend, I now invite the idea and hope to make some big changes myself. I remember my weekend at the cabin and how free and alive I felt, I remember the memories I made while looking around and not at a phone screen, I remember that everything was still there when I got home, and I remember that nothing is more important on that screen than what was in front of my eyes, I remember that I have the capability of remembering without a crappy iPhone photo. Stop posting, start living. 

 

 

 

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  1. Kelly Zugay says:

    Love, love, love this SO much! 🙂 Thank you so much for sharing!

  2. Hi Jenna,

    New follower here. This post really resonated with me. Like so many others, I always seem to have my phone within an arms reach, but not this weekend during a few days away to celebrate a friend’s backyard wedding reception. On the drive back home into the city, I couldn’t help but scroll through my phone and be a little upset that I didn’t capture more photos from the weekend. I didn’t have a stream of Instagram pictures to document the amazing backyard barbecue, or the laughter shared among friends, or later in the night when we all spontaneously jumped in the pool and chatted over a bonfire. You’re right, what is shared via social media (or not shared!) is many times quite different from what’s really happening in our lives. While I didn’t come away this weekend with perfect pictures, I did come away with an incredibly fun and memorable time with friends. Thank you for this post!

    xo, Laura

  3. Esther says:

    Earlier this summer, I went to Berlin, Germany on a mission trip with a group of people from my church. Before the trip, I was a fairly devoted Instagrammer and loved to capture moments, edit them, and send them into the IG world. I was hoping and expecting to have enough time during our days to do the same while in Berlin. But I was sorely wrong. Every day was a full, full day of walking, loving others, and ministry work, and it was all beautiful. There were rare moments when I even thought about taking out my phone to take pictures ’cause I really, simply, just wanted and NEEDED to be in the moment. When we got back home in the evenings, usually, it was too late to go through all my pictures, find the ones I loved, edit them, caption them, and put ’em on IG. So, all in all, my time on IG shrunk to almost nill for two weeks. And I learned to love it.

    When I got back to the US, it was really hard and a bit strange to fall back into the pattern of checking IG and posting. It felt like the time I was spending on IG was a waste (sometimes, it is, and sometimes, you need a break, of course!), and I could be doing so much more and soaking in so much more of who was around me, where I was, and what was going on. And even now, I’m having a hard time regularly checking in on IG, which isn’t all that bad. At the moment, I’m trying to find the rhythm between posting wisely and living intentionally!

    Jenna, even though you may feel like you’re on the back-end of speaking on this subject, I found your post to be really refreshing, raw, and encouraging. It resonated with me so much ’cause I’ve been processing why I’ve been feeling the way I’ve been towards IG & posting since I came back, and your post just solidified some of the ideas that I’ve been mulling over. Thanks for the tips too! I’m going to try and utilize them in my own life!

  4. Sarah Smith says:

    THANK YOU for this.
    I’ve felt these words in my heart and thank you for typing them out.
    Thank you for practical ways to get connected in person.

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