Creating Vs. Documenting: Why Technology is Ruining Your Experience of a Place

Written by Hank Martin in Personal Development

Cell phones are making us dumb and preventing us from seeing the world. Everywhere I go I see people with phones in their hands. Check out lines. Coffee shops. In cars. At bars. Cell phones have become a habitual activity. We use them even when we do not mean to as a way of filling the gaps in our day. Cell phones are killing our lives

Did you know that over 10 billion photos are taken with iPhones every month? Wrap your head around that one. 10 Billion. What do we do with all these photos? Well, over 300 million are posted to Facebook every month. Most of the rest probably go on Instagram or get deleted because we blinked during the photo. We spend our lives behind the lens of a camera, not out experiencing the world. Taking photos is an impulsive habit.

We are a culture of documenting and that habit is turning us back in to apes. We mistake documenting for creating, thinking the productive output is the same. But, they are not. In fact, they could not be further opposites. Documenting is a passive recording of moments while creating in a conscious design of content or experiencing of a specific moment.

This obsession with documenting every moment of our lives, as if we believe that if a moment isn’t documented it didn’t happen, consumes our time and energy. And for what? New followers or friends on a social platform that provide shallow recognition about the mundane aspects of our life which we spruce up with photo editing software or camera angles designed to show us in the best light?

If we spent half of the time we spend on taking photos and sharing them with people we have never met before on creating things of value our world would be a drastically different place.

So why are we so obsessed with selfies? It is an easy form of validation, one of the most basic human needs out there. We want to feel pretty. We want others to compliment us with a heart or thumbs up, but we don’t want to outright ask for that compliment. So we post a photo of our good side and say, “a beautiful sunny day.” As if we are really looking for acknowledge on the sunshine and not how we look.

The good news is that overcoming our obsessive desire for documentation is easy. All we need to do is put away our phones and experience the world. Usually this means not only being present in the world, but picking up a new hobby to fill our time. Do something creative. Write. Paint. Draw. Start a business. Cook. Do something. Now I know this is the this is the unpopular way of being popular.

This way takes time and hard work, not just showing some skin. But, I guarantee you, that if you spent one year creating instead of documenting or consuming you would not only be an amazing person in real life, but you would be well on your way to developing a career or hobby that both pays you and fulfills you. You would not need Sportscenter, your iPhone, or Netflix to distract you from a crappy job. You would have an amazing life in front of you. Each day would be a perfect day.

Or not. You can continue consuming, adding to the culture of documenting dumb things for superficial reasons. But, if you want more, I challenge you to download Moment, an iPhone usage app, and look at how much time you spend on your phone.

That’s it. Start there. If, after a week, you aren’t slightly ashamed that you picked up your phone 87 times in one day, and spend 5 hours on your phone a day, 23% of it on Instagram or Facebook (that’s over an hour a day, or at least 7 hours a week) then forget I even mentioned this. Keep on keepin’ on. But, if you want to change your life, progress starts with that thing in your hand. Put it away for just a bit. Start adding value to this world, and stop being part of a culture that is okay with so much consumption.

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