On sharing life — and not actually living it

A few thoughts on our generation’s pursuit of likes and doing it for the gram. Is it just our generation’s thing, though?

I was listening to the podcast by Casey Neistat and his wife Candice. The couple brought up how life used to be. You’d go out to eat some food just for the experience — and to satisfy your hunger. Nowadays it’s about something different. You go to the glitzy restaurants who topped TimeOut’s list to share it on your Instagram story.

This has become such a common theme of almost every social interaction that it got its own Urban Dictionary entry. When you do it for the gram, it means that ‘you do things in your life so you can take pictures and show off on Instagram.’ Casey and Candice admitted that nowadays, smartphones play a huge part of social life and it’s now more about sharing than experiencing. It’s especially interesting to hear it from Casey — a YouTube sensation who shared every day of his life for over a year.

When was the last time you went out for a nice dinner, without documenting it on your social platforms? Or maybe, when did you go for a dinner just to Instagram it?

Fast-paced run

And I thought I was different. I thought I wasn’t doing it! When I go out and grab an exceptional brownie with an ice cream that is particularly instagrammable, I usually shy away from posting it on my Stories. (That’s not to say I don’t do it at all.) The main reason I’d take a few snaps of my food is to let my Mum know I’m taking care of myself and eating in London.

Having said that, I was listening to my podcast on my way to the running club’s session. Then it hit me. I’ve realised that in 15 minutes, I’m going to pull out phone from my pocket when we start our run. I’d then make Strava record my pace, milage, and pat me on the back with an achievement for running through Millennium Bridge faster than two days ago.

I’m no different than any other representative of my generation then. The idea behind a running app is the same as behind Instagram. I’m sharing my life and showing my friends and followers I did something cool, something quite admirable. Not forgetting, there are the likes.

Likes is another interesting aspect of our era. We strive for them, we need them more than we need air. It’s our fuel. We’re happy when we get lots, we overthink what went wrong when we don’t reach our nebulous target of hits.

Maslow and his pyramid

This, however, made me think. Are we different than the generation of our parents and grandparents? Is XXI- so very different from XX century? Didn’t we always seek admiration for what we do? This took me years back when I first learnt about Abraham Maslow. This famous psychologist has in 1943 developed a hierarchy of needs.

Maslow differentiated hierarchy of human needs, presenting it as a pyramid which comprises of a five-tier model. The bottom of the pyramid consists of basic needs, such as warmth and water. As we move up the ladders, we start getting into psychological needs such as safety needs. Next up are belongingness and love needs, followed by esteem and self-actualisation.

Different tools

The universal model from Maslow has rightly depicted human needs. Our grandparents also needed a high five from their peers when they won the 100-meter run. The needs didn’t change. Tools did.

Our grandparents didn’t have smartphones and had no Snapchat. This is not to say they didn’t want to be admired. Their likes, however, were in the form of non-virtual thumbs up.

Coming back to our generation — there’s nothing wrong with it. We just live differently. But is that the way to live? Let me have a think about it while I’m running the quickest mile over the Millennium Bridge.

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A photo in the header is from my own collection. See my Instagram here — there are very few snaps of brownies there.