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BLOG: Your Virtual Shadow: Are you so obsessed with social media tech that it's ruining your life?

Darlene Storm | May 3, 2013
"We’re now on the ultimate fool’s errand: sacrificing everything to capture our lives, even if that requires not being fully present in those lives as we are living them.”

TED Book -- Our Virtual Shadow by Damon Brown

Have you ever been so intent on taking a picture, be it a fireworks display, a sunset, or some other important moment, that you end up missing the experience as a whole? We've all done it, been so busy trying to capture and share a special event, to document it, that we did not live in that moment. According to a new TED Book, Our Virtual Shadow: Why We Are Obsessed with Documenting Our Lives Online, "Our virtual shadows are stronger than ever, while our present lives are slowly being killed by a thousand virtual paper cuts. We're now on the ultimate fool's errand: sacrificing everything to capture our lives, even if that requires not being fully present in those lives as we are living them."

Author Damon Brown first explains how long term and short term memories are made, before contending that a person who doesn't take in every multisensory aspect-sights, sounds, scents, taste and touch to create a collective whole-will not form as much of an in-depth and cohesive long-term memory of an event. What our brains can store in intellectual and sensory data cannot be recreated by technology at this point to give us the same rich emotional context. It remains to be seen if that will change, since "Futurists are convinced that new technology will give us the ability to record smell, to map touch, and to save other sensory data to a computer or send it to another person." Brown says, "We don't want to lift a finger because tech is now our indentured servant."

Hopefully, at least in my opinion, you aren't so hooked on documenting every moment that you would be one of those people who tweets during your own wedding, or posts a Facebook status update during childbirth? Sure, most folks think it's great to be retweeted, or to have a Facebook status liked, or even to have what you shared on Google+ to have tons of +1s, but do you live for it? Brown maintains, "The subtle, almost subconscious pressure we are all under today was previously reserved for celebrities, world leaders, and religious figures. Our legacy - our virtual shadow - is always in question, and it changes from day to day."

Interview with Damon Brown

You wrote, "The biggest reason we have become obsessed with documenting our lives is fear. It is the fear of letting a special moment in our lives blossom without our interference. It is the fear of having a bad experience if we don't read a restaurant review first. It is the fear of the unexpected." If you were hiring a contractor and it was going to cost thousands of dollars, then yes, I agree that it would be wise to research and read reviews first. In fact, it would seem like wisdom to read reviews before purchasing a new smartphone or drop serious dollars on some other tech device. But seriously, you think people are so afraid of the unexpected that they can't eat out without first reading reviews?


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