Recently, a friend of mine posted pictures of her engagement on Facebook. She had been with her partner for almost ten years, and I was so overjoyed for her. I followed the photo series of her now fiancé getting down on one knee behind his unsuspecting partner. I saw the overwhelming look of love in both of their eyes, as they squished their faces together for a post-yes selfie. I clicked the “like” button, and then went about my day.
It seems as if my newsfeed is flush with these types of pictorials lately. I am now at the age where the majority of my friends are cycling into this new phase of adulthood, and sharing the news in a way that is wholly different than that of their parents. Gone are telephone trees, and in-person announcements. Now your friends (and all their friends, and so on) can be privy to your happiest of moments.
My generation is criticized for being too plugged-in. Social media personas are curated and polished. The humble brag has become so commonplace that the very definition of internet modesty has changed. I must admit that I have a love-hate relationship with social media. My stock answer when ever asked why I partake is “I moved a lot as a kid” (true), and, “I have friends all over the world” (also true). And I do take pleasure in seeing what my friends/acquaintances/former colleagues are up to. I enjoy catching up on news with a quick swipe, and love finding links to the latest viral clip during my lunch break. It has helped me market my writing, and has kept me entertained while waiting at the doctor’s office. All in the name of connectivity, right?
Yet when it came time for me to contribute my own experience, I hesitated. My husband proposed in front of the Washington Monument, and I was lucky enough to have my best friend (with a quick reaction when she realized what was happening 10 seconds before I did) capture the moment with an iPhone. I’m so thankful she did, because between the shock of what was happening and the mild embarrassment educed by the crowd that had formed to watch, I don’t remember much from the actual moment.
Thirty minutes later, still on the National Mall, and more than a little shaky with love and adrenaline, we had called both sets of parents, as well as my sister-in-law, and texted my brother. All immediate family members got a photo or two of the big moment accompanying a text had both “Ahhhhh!” and some serious heart, eyes-bugging-out and crazy-wide grin emojis.
My next instinct was to post the pictures on Facebook. I wanted the world to see how happy I was! But as the FB app was opening on my phone, I stopped. Is this how I was going to live my life? Posting moments before fully experiencing them? I had plans that night to see a lot of my college friends, and I wanted to see the look on their faces when I told them. In person. Yet withholding this information felt like I was keeping a secret. It felt dishonest.
I decided to finish out our vacation post-free. I got to really digest this life change in a beautiful and carefree way. I was not concerned with how many “likes” I received, nor spent time reading congratulations through a screen. I got to feel them in the hugs, and the high-fives, and the smiles.
In the end, I did post some pictures and officially changed my relationship status a few days later. And I appreciated the comments and well-wishes. But what I appreciated more was the memories I created by fully living in the moment and giving it all of my undivided attention. When my wedding rolled around, I kept a similar philosophy. I realized that staying connected to the world can be fun, but staying connected with yourself is essential for a happy, fulfilled life.
(Image via BBC/PBS)