OUT ON A LIMB: You Don’t Need To Document Everything.

And we’re so addicted and used to reflexively recording everything that we end up excusing the weirdest behaviour. They just want to remember the fireworks! Really? There’s crowds of people all capturing the same thing; they will likely never watch that video back, and if they’re posting it online that’s not for memories; it’s for attention. It’s the same thing as ‘90s camcorders! In what world! Camcorders didn’t come with this urge, with this compulsion to constantly update people, with tying your self-worth to likes and followers. You’ll regret it if you don’t record it! Sure, capture occasional moments; keep them for you. But I think if this generation is on track to regret anything it will be the time we wasted documenting and editing and filtering and marketing ourselves for social media. Time we will never get back. My bet is we won’t look back at our hundreds of thousands of Instagram Stories and Snapchats and Boomerangs with fondness that we filmed these moments, but with aching regret that we didn’t fully feel them.

Because look at the people who do document their entire lives! Very often these perfect influencers are falling apart behind the camera. Again and again, perfect online couples seem to implode out of nowhere. Influencers who dedicate every waking moment to documenting their identity have no idea who they actually are. Women who post pictures of their faces from every angle and in every possible lighting hate how they look. Families who capture every moment of their perfect lives get caught in scandal after scandal. And still we keep falling for it: the illusion, the performance, the front. Almost 70% of Gen Z say social media makes them feel stressed, anxious and depressed; over half want to be influencers. What’s happening here? We so easily forget the emotional cost of sharing everything; we so easily forget that those who do are compensating.

Video version of the above essay, with numerous shots of people with iPhones documenting every last micro-second of their lives, here: