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Memory vs. Moment: Scattered Musings on Social Media and Smartphones

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Memory vs moment: legacy vs life. We can choose to spend our mortal lives striving to solidify the wise fading whispers we leave behind in death.

Social media brings us closer together. Sometimes true, often debatable. What is without debate, however, is its power to remove time and space, allowing us to communicate irrespective of distance, from almost any place on the planet to another. This means that with great battery life and a strong signal we can stay connected with our online communities, whilst alone, in the middle of nowhere. But we live and breathe time and space, so it needn't be replaced in all cases.

We can become so absorbed by social media sites; sucked in by screens of increasing size, that we wholly forget our surroundings. Our real world becomes the T.A.R.D.I.S -like, paradoxical light that flutters back and forth, and left and right from the little windows of our phone screens, pecking dreams and dropping seeds. And before we know it, we become needy, and clutch our phones greedily with our hands to our chests and with our eyes to our minds.

Sometimes we need numinosity to survive; sometimes, it’s good to know we’re just a drop in the ocean. It creates the curiosity to experience and travel, to try to unravel all that there is that we don’t know or understand. But now the oceans can be pooled in the palms of our hands, along with the sun-drenched sands of distant lands that used to sit, quenched and wave-kissed. Now digitalized and confined by ergonomic design, we can fit all this inside plastic, pixels and light waves. We turn a bright day’s sun rays into frown-prompting glare, or, with some appreciation, into the pallid reflection of a snapped imitation of ‘the moment’, and where we see fit, filter it for Instagram, so someone can ‘like’ it, and then comment: “great pic, man”.

All this held in our hands. And so now that’s where we search and strive and live, in a hand book. But only when we use it to guide us and not to define us, are we unlocking its positive potential. What good is a stencil if not for the pencil to fill it in? Is the preservation of memory worth disrupting the moment? I suppose sometimes it is, and I suppose sometimes the taking of a photo is a lovely memory in itself, but surely it cannot complement every situation.

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Social media and smartphones present us with a choice between memory and moment. I know this may seem simplistic, and I acknowledge that social media and smartphones do have so many practical purposes; of course it is great thing to be able to freely communicate. The ability to record, capture and store our sights and thoughts can be brilliantly useful. Technology has allowed us to breathe new life into the way we preserve our memories. But no one has given us a user guide, we are the first of our kind, and so it is necessary to shine a light on the implications of this new global behaviour, just in case, without realizing it, we are compromising something we hadn't even considered. Maybe the glow of a blurred memory is sometimes more beautiful, in all its fuzziness and forgetfulness, than the pimple precision of HD. Not always, but sometimes.

I do truly look forward to the day in my old age where I scroll all the way back to my Facebook birth, enjoy the day to day conversations of my youth, and relish the atmosphere of my formative years. But this begs another question; can you die of nostalgia? Will it be too much?
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It makes me think of long running TV shows and the way we can literally see the actors aging season to season. Now as much as these age comparisons aid the content of Buzz Feed, just imagine how it would feel to have that amount of access to hours and hours of footage of your younger self. I’m sure re-runs must have brought some to tears-the bitter sweet kind.

We all have times we remember much more clearly than others, times that seem so complete in our minds we can almost journey back. Normally old home videos reflect these in volume and exclusivity, popping up here and there at funny moments and special occasions, deservedly immortalized. But now there is no prestige to the sharp memories that stick out in stark detail of their own accord, because we have had so much room record.

But again, maybe this isn't a bad thing, I guess we’ll just have to wait and see. Just remember, life is to run with the moment, before capturing the memories.


Leo Donnelly 
Ever wondered what would happen if you gave a half-crazed, semi-concussed, unstoppable maverick a platform to write about social media? Follow him @LeoAtSMF

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Memory vs. Moment: Scattered Musings on Social Media and Smartphones Reviewed by Leo Donnelly on Thursday, April 09, 2015 Rating: 5
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