Is Instagram poisoning the present moment?

CC photo via  Markus Spierin  g  on Flickr

CC photo via Markus Spiering on Flickr

Husband and I went to see a movie, which we don’t do often (I generally prefer movies with popcorn and couch cuddles), and I was amazed by how many times we were inundated by messages to “Turn off your phone” during the film. Even more surprising was that people didn’t listen to these prompts — there was a little light in the seat below me, its owner ignoring the movie.

Phones are neat. Thanks to smartphones, moments can be captured, edited and shared with all our friends in a matter of seconds. This is powerful. Our social channels are preserving memories. When we’re feeling nostalgic, we can quickly talk a walk down memory lane — as long as we have internet access, of course.

My generation remembers life without cell phones and smartphones and even internet, but we were fairly young when these technologies were introduced. We didn’t struggle to adapt to change, but it was a change. 

Generations younger than me don’t know life without smartphones, Facebook, Instagram and hashtags. They’ve grown up with the ability to capture moments in time with the click of a button on their cell phone. 

This luxury has become second nature to me. And it’s first nature to some. Seeing people attached to their phones, staging photos and ignoring movies makes me question:

Is Instagram killing our presence? I see both sides of this argument:

1. Yes, Instagram is totally killing the moment

I see it everywhere. Sitting at a restaurant, a concert, the movies — anywhere, really — just take a look around and be amazed by how many couples and families are together, ignoring each other, playing on their phones. They might pause to take a photo to capture this “memorable” evening, only to immediately wipe the fake smile off their faces so they can hashtag, filter and post the beautiful image of their evening online. In all of this process, they forgot something important: They forgot to enjoy the moment. The world imagines a fantastic event, but in reality, they aren’t truly enjoying it.

2. No, Instagram captures the moment

I love Instagram. I love following yogis and seeing their journey. I love capturing my own journey — on and off the mat — and sharing it with you. I also read an interesting article recently about how through Instagram, we are architects of our memories. I love that. I'm an architect of my memories. 

Whether it’s polaroids from the 70s or social media today, the way we choose to capture memories is in line with how our sense of self fits into the spectrum of present, past and future.
— Dr. Claudia Aguirre,

It goes on to say that in the end, all we keep from life are stories and memories. The in-between is lost in time. I can’t go back an re-experience our beach vacation. I can look at photos and smile, remembering the feeling of sun on my skin and the sound of waves hitting the shore. 

Instagram haters: I get it. Instagram lovers: I get you, too. My own approach to social media is a balance of both. I take social media breaks and, especially during trips or dates, I unplug as much as possible. That being said, I love being the architect of my story; capturing moments and preserving them in the way that I want. 

Like most things, I believe in balance. Smartphones are like wine. They are wonderful in moderation, but too much can make you forget what really happened or can even turn into an addiction. 

The best form of moderation is mindfulness. Let's enjoy our journeys.