Life in the Social Era

Image courtesy of Fedobe

In the age of social media, life becomes a spectator sport. The only difference is that we're both the athlete and the audience in this arena.

Meals, shopping trips, holidays, and events become Instagram, Flickr or YouTube moments. Daily murmurs are framed on Facebook while fleeting thoughts (in 140 characters or less) are immortalised on Twitter. The more verbose (like yours truly) would seek the solace of blogs, documenting their thoughts in detail.

As we capture each milestone of our lives, we eagerly consume the lives of our friends. With the rampant sharing, retweeting, commenting, and "liking" going on, every infinitesimal "real-time" detail of their lives are etched into our hearts and minds.

What are the outcomes of these ongoing online outpourings?

1) Newton's 3rd Law ie "to every action there is an equal and opposite reaction" takes on new significance as we create, curate and calibrate our lives to elicit the greatest social impact. If at first you don't get 20 "likes", try try again...

2) Crowdsourcing becomes not just a corporate tool for innovation, but a way to lead our lives. Want to know which restaurant to celebrate your anniversary? Tweet a query to your followers. Unsure which school you should send your kid to? Trawl a parenting forum.

3) We're more intimate with our far flung friends on Facebook (many of whom we've never met before) than our parents living around the corner. Or in the next room.

4) Smartphones (and tablets for some) become so vital that we cannot function normally without them. With these digital devices taking on such prominence, unplugging ourselves could literally mean switching off our lives. Try yanking a smartphone from a teenager and see what happens!

5) In an eerie manner reminiscent of movies like Matrix and Tron, we become a node in a giant social network, losing our individuality in the Interwebs. Our actions are less a reflection of who we really are than what others expect of us.

While considering the above, ask yourself these questions:

- Are you the sum total of your mutterings on Facebook, Google +, Twitter and more?

- Do you have to share every "Instagrammable" moment of your life?

- Can you let go of that digital appendage, unencumbered by the million voices on the social web?
- What would you like written on your epitaph? How do you want to be remembered by those who truly matter?  

As a frequent flyer of the social airwaves, I must admit that its comforting to be constantly connected to the web. I get a kick of endorphin when a post rides high on the viewership stakes. A broad smile appears on my face when a status update is shared and reshared.

While I do enjoy the "lights, cameras, and action" of being in the digital limelight, I am also mindful of being true to myself. At times, I am reminded to just relish the moment for what it is, without transforming it into another "social sharing" moment. Moreover, I don't have to always show my best side (think "selfie"), nor to be a ceaselessly creative and quote-worthy philosopher of life.

Indeed life isn't about becoming a "social star" that is hyper-connected and hyper-active. Instead, it is about focusing on the vital few who matter, identifying one's true calling, and living each day to the best of one's ability.

Life is also about making a difference - however big or small - to the ones whom you love and cherish. It is about serving others as much as serving yourself. It is also about believing in something greater - a supernatural or divine force which shapes the world which we live in. The world which YOU live in.

Do yourself a favour today. Take some time to unplug so that you can be truly plugged in. I know for sure that I would.

Let me end with this quote from author Anaïs Nin (author of "The Diary of Anaïs Nin")...

“There is not one big cosmic meaning for all; there is only the meaning we each give to our life, an individual meaning, an individual plot, like an individual novel, a book for each person.”

Take some time to rediscover what your life story is like. Leave the laptop, tablet and smartphone aside, inhale and exhale deeply, and start pondering.

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