July 17, 2012: I took a hike the other day. It was a perfect Marin morning, blue skies and just hot enough to work up a sweat. I had no signal so I left my phone in the car to save weight. Of course, as soon as I got a few hundred feet up the trail I wished I had it with me so I could take a pic to share later. Then something unusual happened: I asked myself why I wanted to do that.
Was it just a way to gloat? To let you all know that I'm taking a hike and you're probably at work or engaged in some much more banal activity? That my life is better than yours? Well, maybe a little bit, but that's obviously not cool.
Or was it that I wanted to "share the moment" (what a social media product or marketing manager would call it)? Hmm... That sounds better, yet how can you really share the moment of a hike? The sweat and strain as you start up a steep open grade; trying to quiet your mind with insects buzzing; the feel of touching a lichen-covered boulder and wondering how long it's been there; the magic of descending into a storybook redwood glade; the sound and sight of a little brook beneath a wooden footbridge; the welcome feel of a refreshing breeze; the jolt of startle reflex as a snake winds across the path, and on and on.
Sure, someday we'll be able to simulate the individual atoms of a summer breeze against your cheek, but that will still be mere surface. Photos and video are not bad for the visuals, I guess, if you have a good camera and know how to use it. Words work reasonably well for the ideas, if you have enough space and write well. But what I might really want to share is the way it all felt, to me, in this moment. The way *I* felt as I experienced it. How the sights and ideas and feeling all came together to make an *experience*.
I ended up deeply thankful that I'd left my phone behind. I had one of the more profound days in recent memory, largely for the presence of mind I felt, which I believe I owe to the fact I wasn't pre-processing everything for public consumption.
So, please keep sharing all those fantastically witty observations, profound thoughts, and friendly phatic pings, I love 'em, but maybe also find time to experience life fully, without simultaneously composing a tweet about it in your head.