I was finishing up work yesterday evening when I caught sight of the sunset through our balcony. It was breathtaking—a swirl of deep, burning orange fading into a nearly indigo purple. I grabbed my phone and tried to take a picture when an odd thing happened.
Seeing the sky through the tiny lens of my smartphone did it no justice. As the camera struggled to focus, it created an illusion of distance, making the sunset appear shrunken, both in beauty and in scope. I thought, of course. How foolish of me. I put away the phone and watched the sun disappear over the horizon.
I think I’d meant to share it. Maybe post it on Instagram or Facebook. It was, after all, just me and my dogs on the balcony, but shouldn’t that be enough? We’ve gotten so used to sharing the most beautiful moments of our lives (or at least, the most photogenic moments) as if broadcasting them to our social networks somehow validates them. As if it’s proof that we exist, that we live this life, somewhere in this alternate online dimension. Sometimes I wonder who we’re trying so hard to prove it to.
I know it’s an odd thing to express on a blog of all things. It might even seem hypocritical. I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with social networking lately. I love the people it’s helped me connect to. I hate the co-dependency that constantly being plugged in has fostered. Please don’t get me wrong: That compulsion, that need to check for updates multiple times a day or else feel like I’m missing out on something…that has nothing to do with you or the many friends I’ve met online. It has everything to do with repeated habits that become behaviors that become hard to break when we’re so constantly and instantly gratified with a timeline of tidbits and pictures and articles that is endlessly being refreshed.
I’m not saying let’s all be done with it. I’m just saying I want the control back. I want to share the occasional moment and be at peace with keeping some for myself, to revel in and enjoy as they happen with the people I love so much in my life.
And I have a feeling a lot of us do, too. If it’s not too late to make a new year’s resolution, or a resolution for all my years to come, here it is:
When I look back at my life I want to know I didn’t spend it trying to capture the sky in something as small as a smartphone but rather in the vastness of memory.