Have we forgotten how to experience life?

In the days of ever increasing interconnectivity, are we losing touch with the human experience?

The other day I read an article about how social media sparks higher narcissistic tendencies in people, and a quote that stuck out to me read, “people are unable to experience life for what it is.”

As a culture, we’re disproportionally focused on the importance of the individual. Our desire to market ourselves to the outside world as special and unique has become a near constant quest. And while we are all unique and special in our talents, they are not demonstrated through the superficial.

Our individualism is beautiful because it connects us as part of a whole, it allows us to use our talents to benefit our entire human community—not just ourselves.

Yet we look around daily and see people essentially staging their lives, hoping to capture the perfect picture, aiming to create this illusion we’ve decided is necessary in hopes of curating an ideal self image. Dreaming to better ourselves is a wonderful thing, but we are doing it in the wrong way—we are forgetting to live, connect, experience the present and appreciate its genuine beauty.

When our online lives showcase our superficial attributes and our less-than-realistic realities, we neglect our actual realities; we forget how to live in the moment because we are so focused on uploading the next highly altered photo.

Instead of reveling in the irreplaceable beauty of the present moment we are seeing it through our camera lenses; instead of soaking up what the present looks like, smells like, tastes like, sounds like, feels like, we are focusing on how our peers will value this moment. The desire to be accepted is entirely human, and healthy to some extent, but our culture has gone beyond this to a place where we provoke competition, comparison, judgment and jealousy.

Instead of finding our genuine happiness by doing the things we love, we are causing others to feel badly about themselves and their lives by producing false and inauthentic images, in the hopes to sell the idea that we are the best.

Living a life you are proud of is integral to a happy existence, but is that really what we are doing when we spend so much time creating an idealized image of ourselves for others to judge? Are we really doing what brings us joy and working toward self-love when we’re constantly focusing away from our present moment? When we look around and see so many eyes glued to phones, people furthering themselves from human connection and their experience of life, it feels like we’ve created a fake culture—a culture of make believe.

We are losing touch with ourselves and with one another. The more we obsess about the individual, the more we live our false realities on social media platforms, the more we project a superficial image, the less we know how to truly live.

 Let’s remember to do the things we love because we love them, not because we hope others will too. Let’s remember to appreciate the dwindling human connection which surrounds us. Let’s force ourselves to remain intertwined in the present moment, even if that means feeling uncomfortable feelings. Let’s push back the urge to grapple for our phones the second we are bored or feeling lonely.

Instead, let’s take a deep breath, let life-giving air surge through our bodies, feel the energy of silence, find peace in the chaos, and remember how incredible it is to be alive.