Our lives have become mediated to an extent never before encountered. A concert? A kids’ play? A birthday party? Everyone’s got some sort of technology recording every moment. So much so, they’re only ever living the moment through a lens – from the moment it’s recorded to every revisiting of it, the same view and memory will be had.
We carry the tools of media with us everywhere, every day. Our cell phones are our constantly ‘on’ media connection to the public world. As soon as we encounter something remarkable, we immediately reach to record and share it.
I wonder if this is true: Sharing is becoming more important than experiencing. Social capital has overtaken personally-held value. If I can’t share it, it’s not worth doing.
Last Saturday was the perfect winter day for an extended hike. Elisabeth, Shari and I took the dogs on what we originally had thought was our regular (loved) Saturday morning hike in the foothills. We started out, and somewhat Forrest Gump-like, just kept going. From Shanahan Ridge (what I call Shari’s trail), down to Mesa Trail and Bluestem Trails (part of my usual trail), and then Shari said we could do Shadow Canyon trail, which she knew from a wrong turn she’d taken a few weeks back. Off we went.
The elevation was pretty serious. We worked pretty hard. The only people up this trail were the hard core runners and one pair of one-off sight-seers. And as is usual with trails that are that much effort to get to, it was honestly spectacular. I had somehow forgotten that a really good climb rewards you with a view when you finally slow down and look behind you. We were so focused on chatting and going up the never-ending slope covered in snow and ice, I didn’t even think of what could be behind us. The landscape of trees, icicles, boulders and snow all around us were breathtaking enough. But then for some reason we stopped for a second, and looked down. It felt like we were on top of all Colorado. I could nearly reach out and touch Devils Thumb, we were that high (slight exaggeration, but really, we were very high). I was looking at the tops of pine trees from the trail.
And not one of us had a way of recording it. For some strange reason, we had left our tools of media at home. (Elisabeth had her phone, which was out of battery.)
We talked a little about maybe it was better this way, anyway. In a lot of ways, I think it is. I shared that experience, that hike, with two very special people in my life, and our dogs. Nobody else. And it will always be that way. Even when we go back, equipped with our cameras this time (as we have assured ourselves we will), it will be different to the first time.
That one time, this last Saturday, will always be special for me. We ate snow when we got thirsty. We talked about so many different things. We looked at the view, and appreciated nature’s spectacular beauty which never ever ceases to stun you. I felt in awe, connected, healthy, strong, challenged and loved. I didn’t mediate a second. I shared it only with two people. Two special friends who I am blessed to share experiences with (and who can talk for three hours straight, it seems ;)).
Perhaps we should all mediate those special occasions a little less sometimes, live in the moment and focus on the way you feel instead of purely the way it looked. Perhaps focusing on how you feel will give us better connection to our sense of self than hitting a share button.