Being “In the Moment” Amid Today’s Technology

My latest blog post over at WeAretheRealDeal.com. Read it here or after the jump.
imagesI had an interesting conversation with my mom and sister when I was home in N.J. last weekend.

We were talking about Facebook, and my mom (who is active on Facebook herself) admitted how disconcerting it is to her when she sees someone at a concert, on a date, watching a movie, at a museum … who updates their status saying so.

She feels that by doing that, the person is not living “in the moment.”

My sister (who is 26 and came of age when Facebook was just for college kids like her at the time) agreed with my mom, and I gave her assessment some thought.

I’m of two minds, which I’ll share … but first let me lay the context. What brought this chat up was my Facebook status update a few weeks ago where I said, “Watching MILK–amazing movie, though it’s sad to me that even today, in 2009, equal rights don’t exist for everyone.”

My mom didn’t understand why I felt the need to post at all while watching a movie; in her mind, she would never think to share such information — why I felt compelled to get on my laptop or log on to Facebook mobile from my Blackberry was beyond her.

But it came naturally to me to whip out my phone and update my status. My husband was studying for his midterm upstairs, and I was watching it alone. In my mind, I was sharing an experience in my own way; I wasn’t doing anything “wrong.”

Knowing how many of my friends are big gay rights supporters (like myself) I knew there was a good chance it’d provoke some conversation; that I’d see some commentary following my post — even though it was done at 10 pm on a Saturday.

And I was right.

Sure enough, by the time I woke up, there were like 12 comments.

No, of course I didn’t write the post to attract comments, but I did recognize the potential of creating a dialogue; blogging has helped me cultivate that sense of what’s buzz-worthy and what’s not.

As a blogger and a consumer (and producer) of social media, I love to spur conversations — be it through my Facebook status updates, links I share, photos I post. It’s how I connect with friends and my blog readers alike.

Of course, I realize what I write (on my blog, Facebook, or Twitter) as a body image advocate/recovering disordered eater/30-something might not be interesting to everyone, but it might be interesting to someone.

Hence, I write. I write for me, and I write for my audience.

And the feedback/reaction I get (for better or worse) often helps fuel my next blog post.

Just as when I write a blog post and no one responds and I get a bit of a complex wondering “OMG, was it that boring, why did no one respond?!” … (I do still wonder that), when a Facebook status gets lots of comments, I know it was a good one and try to recreate that “success” again.

So to me, sharing experiences is a different way of being in the moment; it’s being in the moment but sharing it. It’s multi-tasking, but it’s done for the common good, if that makes any sense.

And it creates a community. Now that I blog here at WeAretheRealDeal in addition to my own blog, maintaining that sense of community has become particularly important to me.

That said, I do see my mom’s point to an extent, too, which is why I say I’m of two minds here.

I am the first to admit that being in the moment is not something easy for someone like me who struggles with anxiety and perfectionist tendencies. So I do understand where she’s coming from, as well.

Case in point: often I’m in a moment … but thinking ten steps ahead. On a walk, but thinking about lunch.

At lunch, but thinking about the the conference call I need to make.

On the phone, but thinking about the e-mail I need to respond to.

Writing the e-mail, and thinking about the blog post I’d like to write tonight.

Writing the blog post, but thinking about how it will be received … it’s exhausting how my brain works; this is the “anxious brain” at work, as my therapist used to say. And it can be a real asset … or a pain in the ass, depending on your perspective and frame of mind at the moment.

To state the obvious, you could say it’s hard for me to be in the here and now.

And this is especially true when it comes to food/exercise issues, even now, even though I feel pretty recovered from my challenges and pretty secure about my recovery.

This is why running and journaling in my personal journal, for example, are such cathartic activities for someone like me to do.

These are ways to tune out and only do one thing.

And because we’re such multi-taskers today, that time where we’re focused on just one thing (as one of my friends noted when we discussed it) is “sacred time.” And I love it and have come to savor it when I have it — because there are going to be times I’m watching a movie and update my status or feel inspired to blog.

I also try to disconnect every now and then; to not blog, not tweet, not update my Facebook status … but as an extrovert and someone who enjoys today’s technologies, it’s not easy for me to do. I like being “in the loop,” I like feeling connected.

To be completely honest, without social media (particularly, blogging/blogotherapy) I don’t think my recovery would have been possible. I owe a ton of my recovery to the community I helped cultivate at my blog, Tales of a (Recovering) Disordered Eater.

While in my mom’s mind it’s crazy to tell my friends on Facebook that I’m watching MILK, I see no problem in sharing something like that.

But even I have boundaries. If my husband and I are on a date, you’re not going to hear a peep from me — and that makes sense. That is time for us.

Likewise, I try not to blog much on nights where he’s not at school or studying. Our time together is limited as it is with him working and doing his MBA; the last thing I want to do is detract from that time by being attached to my laptop or Blackberry.

Ultimately, living in the moment will only get more challenging as more and more social media platforms become prevalent.

So I think it’s important for my generation, in particular, to strike a delicate balance between being connected but not too connected that life passes us by.

How about you? Do you struggle with being in the moment? Do you feel it’s more challenging to do so today than even a year or two ago? How big a role does social media play in your every day life?

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8 thoughts on “Being “In the Moment” Amid Today’s Technology

  1. I agree with Mom. Everyone multitasks, and multitasking is completely compatible with being in the moment. For example, you might be watching a movie and thinking about your next blog post, and thinking about how a friend might react to the blog post, and so on β€” many trains of thought going on simultaneously. But “you watching the movie” can only feature in one of those trains of thought, the real world one. If “you watching the movie” appears in any of your other trains of thought, then as soon as that happens you are no longer watching the movie in the real world β€” you are no longer in the moment.

    It’s not updating Facebook that interrupts your being-in-the-moment, it’s updating Facebook with what you are doing right at that moment that interrupts it. In that sense, real-time updates on Facebook are always lies. If they were telling the truth, they would all say: “Right now I’m updating Facebook.”

    So if I had seen your “amazing movie” update, I would have known immediately that the movie was not all that amazing. If it had been truly amazing, you could not have dropped out of it to write the update.

    1. See, but to me, social media IS part of my life now, so the fact that there was a platform available to share–at my fingertips, within reach–made sense for me to share it. I agree, everyone’s statuses are technically fallacies and in a way you could say it interrupts, but to me, it COMPLEMENTS.

  2. This is such an interesting conversation. My parents are also on facebook., I agree that it does seem to have changed our generation–certainly the way we interact with society. My biggest complaint about facebook is that it takes away from face-to-face human interaction. So in that sense, I agree with your mom that it takes away from real-life experiences.
    However, part of me also can’t help but notice that technologies like facebook, twitter, or blogging, just have a different impact on older generations. My parents, for example, can’t understand why I want to tell strangers on the internet about what I eat. Social mediat networking isn’t something that they grew up with.
    I’m rambling here, but this is a great post πŸ™‚

    1. I agree 100% about the face-to-face thing but I have to say, some of my posts/tweets/FB statuses have sparked real life chats with friends and colleagues I might not have otherwise had … I think as long as you maintain REAL friendships/relationships, no harm no foul.

  3. I do see both sides. I use Facebook but never do “in the moment” updates when doing something else. I think the fact that you are a blogger gives you a different outlook on doing what you did compared to someone like your mom (and me) who is not a blogger. I log into Facebook every day but don’t spend a lot of time there. I like how it i has allowed me to reconnect wtih old friends and see what people are up to.

    I do have trouble being in the moment in general, I am a worrier and often thinking about the “what ifs” or making to do lists in my head and thinking about that. I don’t think social media has really worsened that for me but I can see where it could for some people.

    1. Thanks, Lara–I tried to explain that and my mom and sister did see my side of it. They were more talking about people who don’t blog but just update every 5 minutes.

  4. Listen to mom. Mom usually knows her stuff! πŸ™‚

    I agree with your mom by, let’s say, about 10,000 percent.

    After I see a movie, if it was powerful and moving, I’ll find myself reflecting on it for days and weeks afterwards. I think “Milk” is a movie that is a perfect example of this.

    It’s usually only after those moments of reflection that I feel moved to share any conclusions I might have come up with.

    Step 1: Absorption
    Step 2: Pondering
    Step 3: Realization
    Step 4: Sharing

    On the other hand, I just whipped out these thoughts without any pondering at all, so who knows? πŸ™‚

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