Facebook profiles, Instagram accounts, Snapchat snaps, Twitter tweets, Pinterest pins, Tumblr blogs, YouTube videos, stories, hashtags, retweets, tags, I can go on and on with the lingo. The social media universe is vast and growing exponentially. On the other hand, our attention spans couldn’t be any shorter. Yet, somehow we manage to spend hours upon hours of our day or even week checking our ‘poison of choice’. Of course, I exaggerate, but it gets the point across.
If you are active on any social medium then you might be familiar with the strange phenomenon of the lost hour. It goes as follows:
It is a day like any other. You are nonchalantly gazing at your phone and, despite wearing a watch, you decide to check the time on your phone. Once unlocked, a notification catches your eye and you casually click on it. Little did you know that you just fell down the rabbit hole. Your own little social media wonderland. A never-ending, constantly-updating vat of visual stimulants that you never knew you needed to see. In what seemed like a let-me-check-my-phone-quickly-second, an hour managed to slip away from your grasp.
Suddenly, you snap out of your hypnosis and find yourself in a strange daze as you try to regain awareness of your surrounding. What did I miss?! You quickly put your phone away and try to assimilate back into your surrounding. One hour later, a lot of visual stimulation richer and yet you still don’t know what time it is…
Sound familiar? In some way shape or form, most of us succumb to the ‘lost hour’ phenomenon. We mean well but with so many stimuli constantly demanding our attention, it can be hard to resist and not give in to their every beck and call.
The truth of the matter is that this ‘addiction’ causes us to lose more than our time. Quite often we find ourselves just a little less pleased with ourselves. That tad of jealousy that managed to creep in along the way might also not be helping your mood.
Addicted to the highlight-reel high
What is a highlight reel?
Pause. Just so that we’re all on the same page here, let me quickly explain what a (highlight) reel is. The word is more familiar to you than you might think. Remember those blooper reels that used to appear after movies? Basically, it showed a collection of the funniest scenes made during the movie. Now a highlight reel is the blooper reel of the social media world. The only difference is that we choose to share the most important events (highlights) of our day/week/month.
In reality, we do not want to admit to ourselves that our self-esteem can be influenced by something so trivial as checking what other people are doing. Even without meaning to, we compare ourselves to those around us. With the exposure to social media, our network of comparison increases exponentially. You can go on Instagram right now and find someone who is living the jet-setter lifestyle and posting amazing photo after photo in noteworthy destinations with their friends, colorful açai bowls, awe-worthy yoga moves, intense fitness regimens, and their luxury escapades. When it is all over and done with you are left wondering why your breakfast was not as colorful and your workout sessions not as glamorous.
Feeding the addiction
When was the last time you caught yourself on Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat etc. looking at someone else’s life convinced that they have it so much better? If you cannot relate, my sincerest kudos to you! Keep that up, seriously :)! If, however, this sounds like you do not worry, it happens more often than you think. With all that we are exposed to it can be hard sometimes to distinguish what is real and what is staged or ‘done for the (Insta)gram’. One thing is for certain, many of us can’t seem to get enough of the highlight reel high and in the words of Charlie Puth: ‘You just want attention!’.
In an online world where attention is our currency, we are critical about screening everything we share and determining how much ‘social currency’ (likes, retweets, comments etc.) our post(s) will generate. What happens then to the 90% of our life that is spent behind-the-scenes? By systematically screening our highlights we are downgrading the majority of the moments in our life. Before you know it we are missing out on our precious life waiting for our next highlight reel-worthy moment in order to share it with the world.
Nowadays it seems that everyone is keen on sharing the little accomplishments of life with those around them. Knowing full well what we are doing, by feeding the content monster with our own updates, we nurture our love/hate relationship with social media. It feels good to be acknowledged for your accomplishments, no matter how small and with every like we collect our virtual pat on the shoulder.
Stay level-headed and do not let life pass you by as you wait for the highlight-worthy moments to come by. No amount of social currency is worth you missing out on your life! Remember that EVERYONE is doing it for the ‘gram’, in their own type of way, when posting to their social media. First impressions are important and everyone is trying to put their best foot forward. There is no shame in that.
Try to not lose yourself in someone else’s highlight reel wondering: why your life does not look like theirs. Funnily enough, when you share your own highlight reel there is at least one person in this world who would wonder the exact same thing!
“The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.”