On a day when the spoiled-rotten First World exults in the premiere of Apple’s latest overpriced fashion accessory, I suppose someone has to be the cranky old man, so here goes. While reading about the rollout of the new iPhone 6 and something called the Apple Watch, I stumbled across the following line via The Huffington Post:
One cool feature getting people talking: the ability to share your heartbeat with your friends who also have Apple watches.
I think I speak for many fellow Normals when I rhetorically exclaim, “WHY???!!” Sadly, I already know the answer and it’s part of an increasingly disturbing trend. While, on one hand, social media has spent more than a year excoriating the Obama administration and the National Security Agency for storing our cellphone metadata, we’re simultaneously over-sharing the details of our personal lives to anyone and everyone willing to pay attention.
We’re sharing everything from our disgusting meals to our bizarre illnesses to every frame of our vacations to the minute-by-minute growth of our children. And now, we have the ability to share our vital signs with our friends. Surely the iColonoscopy isn’t too far over the horizon — and I assure you, if the hacks who run Apple these days develop such a product, people will use it and they will absolutely share the horrifying results.
Social media and handheld devices have turned us all into reality show micro-celebrities. We each have a gawking audience now, whether it’s 50 or 50,000 followers, we all feel as if we’re performers, cultivating our own brand. We’ve become narcissistic, Pavlovian addicts, sharing more and more, satisfying a worsening hunger for the approval of our voyeuristic following, like children tossing rocks into a lake just to see the splash. Worse, it’s getting to a point where not sharing a detail from our lives means it didn’t actually happen.
The solution is a rather simple one. We all need to shut the fuck up for a while. Follow the example of Patton Oswalt, who decided to abandon social media for the Summer. We should do that. Step away. Put down our phones, close our social media browser tabs and try to enjoy a few private thoughts and private experiences. At the very least, enjoy a meal with our families without checking in or photographing our drinks or checking Twitter while our spouses are ordering.
Enjoy the moment without obsessively performing or watching others perform or reacting to the reaction to your performance.
Reclaim your business.
Rediscover what it’s like to keep a few things to yourself.
Sure, I get it, we all still have a few things we don’t share, but usually they’re things that either don’t fit into our brands or they’re just too embarrassing to broadcast. But I’m not talking about the mishaps or undeveloped observations (first drafts?) that we already refuse to share. I’m talking about keeping a particularly delicious meal to ourselves. Reserve our kids’ latest developmental milestone as a family-only celebration. Refuse to act upon one of those Facebook memes, especially the new one daring us to share our gratitude — an exercise that only ends up becoming a list of items that mostly conform to our branding (Which really trendy eatery will best underscore my reputation for excellent taste in gastronomy? I think I’ll be grateful for that today.).
Realistically, we will always have social media, and as a professional writer, I will always be a (fickle) participant in the system. It’s kind of an important part of my job. But if practical, I think we all could stand to share a little less. That means not being tempted to financially support devices that enable our addiction to over-sharing. Before we rack up more debt in the name of owning a slightly larger or wearable version of what we already own, we should seriously evaluate whether we want to be on display as self-produced reality show micro-celebs, broadcasting everything including our heartbeats — and paying a hefty fee for the service.
Except this article, of course. Share it with everyone you know, using the convenient social media buttons provided above and below this text.