Let’s face it. Social media, especially Facebook, has changed the way we do almost everything. On a recent weekend getaway to Anna Maria Island as the guest of a special friend, I had everything a boy could dream of: sand, Sauvignon and sunset. Nevertheless, I kept updating my status, posting photos and charging my iPhone battery which seemed to always be at only 40 percent.
The alfresco dinner on our balcony was interrupted every few minutes by me saying, “Hold your wine glasses higher” or some such thing as I posed and repositioned everything from the seashell centerpiece to the dessert plates at just the right angle. In retrospect, it was madness.
Every walk on the beach was a photo opportunity or chance for me to craft a witty comment to send around the world to a thousand Facebook friends from that little device that was never parted from my side. It became a nuisance to good company whose conversation was put on hold, paused and imposed upon when I should have been savoring the moments of a sunset over the ocean. Instead I was documenting every frame, zooming in, adding a filter with more contrast, attaching my location for the sake of social media — and I dare say this does not make me unique in our world.
The experiences I missed such as the egret spreading its wings, performing for us, or that sailboat drifting out of sight at the horizon make me nostalgic for moments not fully appreciated while they were happening. Not too long ago, people were able to truly relax, live in the moment, and savor the simplest of gifts that are now taken for granted. Such moments should be relished, breathed in slowly like the fresh seaside breeze or wherever we find ourselves, without the obsession of documenting except in a memory.
Sure, I remember Daddy pulling out his giant black Kodak camera on the family vacation from my childhood, and I still have many of those old photographs in private photo albums where they were intended. Those were the good ole days when postcards were thought marvelous; hand-delivered souvenirs from someone’s vacation, even better. My parents would sit in rocking chairs reliving stories from their travels to all who gathered around to listen, the stories a bit more embellished each time they were told.
Don’t get me wrong. I had a glorious time on Anna Maria Island, and I don’t think I interfered with the fun of my companions too much. Still, now we feel we must narrate our stories with famous quotes borrowed from the Internet, tagging familiar words with a hashtag or two, and sharing it in sepia tone from our handheld devices, brushing the sand off as we go.
Well, I had an epiphany, or one of Oprah’s “aha” moments, and toward the end of this lovely weekend, I turned off the world for a little while to soak up some sun just for me. I love Facebook, so I’m not sure how long my lesson will last, but I encourage us all to strike some balance — to live a bit more in those special moments and only when they have passed, and then only sometimes, to post them on social media for everyone to see.
The Dispatch Editorial Board is made up of publisher Peter Imes, columnist Slim Smith, managing editor Zack Plair and senior newsroom staff.