Ever have a case of Eye Trickery? You know, when you pass a roadside sign and see Men in Fleas or Mean Trees instead of Men in Trees? Do not Cross becomes Donut Boss. Happens to me all the time, typically when anxiety (or too much caffeine) gets the best of me.
My most recent case of ET, however, has caused me to really think about the way I’ve been living. As a writer for The Budget Fashionista, a fashion and beauty website for women on a budget, I did a double take when I read about a particular skirt style. It said it had “abbreviated living.” Huh? A living skirt?
In reality it was, “abbreviated lining” a style whereby the lining ends above the hemline. The rest just hangs looking empty, needing more.
So I got to thinking: are we living abbreviated lives? Like the skirt, are our abbreviated lives leaving us with the feeling that something is missing? Are we cutting ourselves short of our full potential, sacrificing a bit here and a bit there . . . dare I say, skirting the issue?
Social Media: Are we Making our Character Count?
Even our social media mandates we live abbreviated lives. We think our character counts when, well, we make the right character count on Twitter.
Our interactions with family and friends are often social media dependent. If Grandma or Dad aren’t privy to the party or event, oh well. We’ll tell ‘em about it a week later. Our Instagram and Facebook friends see pictures of an event before Dad or Grandma even knows there was one in the first place. Sometimes, relationships fall by the wayside, ironically, thanks to certain sites that aim to bring them together. After all, why meet when you can “see” how I’ve been doing on the internet? Wouldn’t talking about it over lunch be a waste of precious time?
Now, I’ll be the first to admit I’m a bit of a Facebook addict. I’m on Twitter, Skype, LinkedIn and dabble with Instagram. And StumbleUpon. And Digg. Oh Boy. Clearly the importance of social media and the power it has to spread news, inspire, grow business and form friendships is a wonderful thing. But lately, I’ve been feeling like it’s been one too many status updates and not enough dinner dates for me.
Somehow I don’t think I’m alone.
In a way, we’re secretly more thrilled at a retweet, a Facebook like or text from a pal than a phone call with a loving relative we haven’t spoken to in ages.
Yet we continue: We send out new friend requests on Facebook, the modern-day equivalent to a third-grader showing up at the house down the street, knocking on the door to ask if Johnny can come out and play. Like the child, we sit and perhaps stew, wondering why Susie doesn’t like us anymore or why little Joe never accepted our friend request. We get over it 11 seconds later, moving on to share with our “real” friends pics of an apple pie we made. Bet you’re sorry you missed that, huh, Susie?
Will obits read, “born in #Wisconsin, John was a longtime member of the #VFW with 433 Facebook friends who once tweeted “#ILoveHamburgers because I don’t like cheeseburgers,” and who had a Facebook page consisting of 14,237 likes”?
I think not.
We’ll remember him (hopefully) for community involvement, his smile, his love of the Twilight Zone (and chocolate milk) and his passion for saving endangered species.
Too Busy to Breathe & Be
We want to be involved, even profess to be involved, but are we? Really? Does the quick “like” of something take the place of actual involvement in it? Is our retweet of someone’s call for action enough of an action?
Yet . . . we take pics, upload dozens of pics to various albums, crop the pics, put filters on the pics, manage the pics, caption the pics, tag people in the pics, edit the pics, delete a few pics . . . could it be that at times, we’re more consumed with posting our full lives, than losing ourselves in the moment?
Indeed, our gadgets and doo-dads fill us with the notion that we’re saving time and bonding with family and friends more. I kinda think it’s less. I don’t know about you, but the time it takes me to check out Facebook, mange my pages, see the latest Twitter trends, share stuff, text people about stuff I read on Facebook, check personal emails, pay bills online and scour news headlines (and . . . inhale), leaves me little time to get my oil changed, let alone make a phone call to a few good friends.
I came upon a quote recently that sums up a great deal of our abbreviated living:
“The more elaborate our means of communication, the less we communicate.” – Joseph Priestly
As I write this, it’s a pleasant windows-down kind of summer day. I’m all of 20 minutes from several beaches. My deadlines are met and just like that, I could be a few feet from seagulls and surf.
But someone just commented on something I posted, and well, it’ll still be nice out later.
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