If you didn’t share it, did you live it?

I wonder if people need to capture and share evidence of a moment, in order to feel that they have lived it.

I am on my way back from a concert.

Around me, people were snapping pictures with their smartphones, which they quickly shared with others in their social networks. Look at the man on the left hand side of this picture:


They would take the picture, switch to a social network application and post it. Then, the ritual would be repeated. Over and over again. I spotted Facebook and Twitter, but there may have been others, too.

Maybe these persons were sharing the event with someone who couldn’t be there and it was an act of altruism.

Maybe they were showing off, in a moment of narcissism.

Altruism and narcissism are two of the drivers of use of social media as I wrote here.

I wonder, though, if there was another driver.

This is a time when we check virtually into places we are physically in; when television shows have their own Twitter hash tags and Facebook timelines; and when tagging and sharing pictures of what we are eating is so popular that there is an app for that.

Maybe adding a virtual, social layer to everything we do, is becoming a part of the experience. Maybe one day, in the not so distant future, we will have to share the moment in order to feel that we have lived it.

Do you think that just like the tree in the forest, if you didn’t share the moment, you haven’t really lived it?

15 thoughts on “If you didn’t share it, did you live it?

  1. Hi AnaCan I ask did you too look at the hashtags being used?What feeling did it evoke when observing or joining in that conversation? Inclusion, exclusion, voyeurism or a sense of connection – or an objective curiosity of the social phenomenon?I too have seen this happening – at conferences and at a gig last year – very different settings. When people share and converse I feel it has a powerful sense of connection – when people simply broadcast it could be seen as narcissism and misses the *social* side of the medium.Personally I am irritated by photo-snappers that can let a situation pass without capturing it – it must be the same behaviour as tweeting – the social-snap photo is a proxy for life at the exclusion of living the life.BTW I filmed Wales’ first penalty kick at twickenham – being barracked by my English friend – Leigh Halfpenny missed. I cant help feeling if I focused and sent Leigh a dedicated thought-wave he would have scored and my next 60 minutes would have been far more relaxed.James


  2. To me the phrase ‘sharing an experience’ used to mean you actually experienced something together, physically (analog world). Social media is an approximation of it, slightly ‘deceiving’ the original meaning?In your observations, how many people who were in a group did actually also share online?


  3. Hi James,No, I did not check the hashtags. I typed that post on the train back from London and was way too tired for that.I suppose that some of the sharing (not just the concert, but in conferences, etc as you mention) has a certain sense of ‘reporting’ – now this is happening; now this person said so and so, etc… A mix of sense of duty + recording one’s thoughts and experiences, maybe?Ah – you are so right about the photo-snappers. It drives me insane, too.


  4. You are so right. Steffen. Much of what is called ‘sharing’ in the SM world is not sharing at all, but more ‘publicising’ or even ‘publishing’ – be it one’s thoughts, picture, physical location (e.g., Foursquare), …As for your question, I didn’t actually see what they were typing. That would be too intrusive – and I was there as a spectator, not a researcher ;-)I just noticed, first, that they were capturing the moments in their smartphones, not cameras. And, then, that they were ‘fumbling’ with the phones – which I later realised was accessing Facebook, etc…I did see people doing this side by side – that is, more than one person within the same group. Whether they were also sharing with each other or not, I do not know.


  5. Interesting observation. As James said, I think involving others in the event, especially at conferences, seminars and the like, can certainly add value. Bringing people into the conversation, and even continuing that conversation after the event to explore a subject further.At concerts etcetera, I think it has to do with ‘reporting’. Telling your friends that you’re at a gig, sharing it with them, like you would have done after the fact before the rise of social networks. And partly, I think, at least for me, it’s also about recording your life. Sort of keeping a diary.As for food… Well, I snap a lot of dishes I have, and share them through foodspotting. Because I like food, and I like to share about great dishes so that people can find the place where I had them. Sometimes it’s a bit about advertising a certain restaurant. I guess the narcissistic side of that is that I think I have a bit of influence. Or want to have it :).


  6. ArjanSharing recipes and inspiring others to cook is a true gift – food is a platform to socialise with. Unless its pop-tarts – thats a lonely existence – though I doubt you have photographed a pop-tart.Keep sharing and inspiring or we will all be at the mercy of McCain Oven chips James


  7. Ah – I like the idea of keeping a diary. Maybe that’s it – except that the diary is open and public, rather than locked and kept private.Do you sometimes feel that you need to capture the moment via a tweet or picture on Pinterest for it to be ‘complete’?


  8. Hello, just arrived here from JimmyVelcro’s blog. I’m a bit late on the scene. Lovely post and discussion :-)While travelling I too found myself noticing my reaction to the rampant snapping and ‘sharing’. And I wasn’t alone. Raised eyebrows and looks were exchanged. My feelings would swing between mild irritation at greedy moment grabbers to something more like admiration for those whose motives I speculated were closer to unselfish sharing for the benefit of others.Is motive important?  My acid test for this is sequence: someone that experiences a moment and really drinks it in before sharing vs someone who rushes to snatch the moment immediately.I think I tend to live in camp A with rare visits to camp B. There’s just so much opportunity to miss those little big moments James posted about while fumbling with a phone/camera/recorder. Hmmm..  Is there a certain irony (is that the right word?) in us discussing our thoughts about capturing and sharing evidence of moments on a blog post in which Ana has captured and shared evidence of a moment she experienced?I think I’ve gone cross-eyed.  Bed time.


  9. Hi Rob,Welcome – it’s never too late :-)Motive… sequence…  Your example makes me think that the two are related. If I am publicising it (as Steffen alluded to) I suppose it is about being the first to share it (camp B). If I am sharing it was a way to record the moment (Arjan’s diary example), then I’ll savour it first (camp A).PS – Great point regarding the ‘irony’ 😉


  10. Just stumbled on Sherry Turkle’s recent talk on this:  Connected, but alone? (http://www.ted.com/talks/sherry_turkle_alone_together.html)She goes as far as to rework the Descartes classic as “I share therefore I am”.However, I attended an interesting workshop last night about the limitations to sharing imposed by competition and privacy that made me think there is a natural firebreak to oversharing: http://skillsmatter.com/podcast/home/gavin-bell-everything-social/js-1604


  11. I was familiar with Sherry’s talk but had never heard the argument that competition is a natural limit to over-sharing – thanks for mentioning it, Rob.


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