When Your Life Becomes a Quest for More Facebook Likes than Actual Living

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It’s your daughter’s 6th birthday. Oh, you sing the birthday song along with the others and gush over how beautiful her doll cake is but you do these all while looking through the lens of your smartphone’s camera. You just have to document your daughter’s sparkling joy-filled face as she blows the candles and smile her guileless one-front-tooth-missing smile. After all, it’s something worth looking back to and the perfect way to do it is take as many pictures or videos as you can. What’s more, you can upload them to your social media accounts and let your FB and Instagram friends gush over how perfectly happy your little girl is!

A familiar scenario, isn’t it? How many of us go through life events that are worth storing as good memories with a camera phone in hand? Anything that stirs our emotions is worth sharing online. And we can’t help but feel satisfied if our posts get many likes and comments.

Like many others, David Maxfield of VitalSmarts, is bitten by the get-the-photo bug. In one summer vacation outing, he was trying to get the perfect angle to capture his nephews and nieces as they frolic along the beach determined to share the photos online for their parents’ enjoyment. However, what he got that day was a nugget of wisdom from his wife when she said: “You’d have a lot more fun if you put the camera away and just joined in.”

With that realization, Maxfield wondered how people’s pursuit to get the perfect photos actually stops them from enjoying the “real experience” of the moment they want to capture. So, he and a colleague, Joseph Grenny, surveyed some 1,623 adults. They compared their subjects’ social media use and habits with a subjective happiness scale.

And the Scale is Tipped

The survey Maxfield and Grenny did yield these results:

  • 90% said they’ve seen tourists miss the fun of an experience because they were bent on documenting it instead of taking part of it and most admitted that they were also guilty of doing the same.
  • 79% said that they’ve seen “parents undermining their own experience in a child’s life” as part of the effort to take and post something.
  • 75% – 3 out of 4 – said they have been disconnected from others and at times rude as they made posts for online.
  • 25% – 1 out of 4 – admitted to being distracted by their smartphones and the social media during intimate moments.
  • 14% confessed to putting their lives in danger just to get the perfect social media photo. Maxfield went on to note that there have been reports of people killed because they tried to get selfies with an approaching train as the background. As a matter of fact, deadly selfies have become an issue within the social media circle. A 2016 study revealed that at least 127 individuals have died – mostly by falling – throughout the world due to selfie taking.


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In a whole, the study discovered that people who are more focused at documenting through camera lens get little pleasure from a life experience as opposed to literally experiencing it.

“’Likes’ are a low-effort way of producing a feeling of social well-being that takes more effort to get in the real world,” Grenny pointed out in a written statement. He added that the survey must serve as a warning to all social media users — that we may be choosing the easy way over what’s real when we look forward to getting as many thumbs ups, hearts and stars in our social media accounts as we can rather than basking in and enjoying the memories as they happen.

A Balancing Act

Both men clarified that they didn’t do the survey because they were anti-social media. It is beneficial, Maxfield said, but it’s not without limitations. Interfering with how we should live our lives is one of its main downfalls.

So, what’s better than documenting the important events of your life with beautiful, Instagram or FB-worthy photos? It’s being in the moment and actually enjoying them as they happen!


Photo Credit

Maxfield offers this advice: SNAP, LOOK AND LISTEN. Take a picture, put your phone down then join in whatever celebration is taking place. The picture you’ve snapped will hold a lot of memories once you do instead of just being a beautiful remembrance of something you vaguely remember just because you were busy trying to capture that perfect shot.

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