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The Shift of Documentation over Experience

Just recently I stumbled upon a TED Talk given by Ricky Van Veen, co-creator of College Humor, about the future of social media. In the discussion, he talked about the concept that people share content online for one reason and one reason only:

Identity creation.

What is identity creation?

It is how people share things online and how they create an identity to themselves to the outside world based on what they post on their social media sites.

Van Veen says that because identity creation is becoming such a strong force, in the future, documentation will lead experience – rather than the other way around.

This made me pause for a moment to think of how things are currently compared to just a mere five years ago.

Five years ago I was in London studying abroad. I had no phone to call people, but I did use Skype for video calls. When I wondered around to see famous buildings and paintings or had a brilliant meal – I was totally focused on that moment. Yes, I took a quick picture but it’s nothing like it is today.


A few weeks ago I went to a concert with a friend. When I was there I took a photo from our seats and found the perfect filter on Instagram, I Vined a video of my friends and I singing to one of the artists songs and I tweeted at the opening band to let them know how fantastic they were.

Did I enjoy the concert as much as I usually do? Thinking about it – no. I didn’t. I was never really fully present. Never fully “there”.

If this is what we have coming in our future I want no part of it.

I want to look around, see the female fan singing along to the music word for word, see the smile on my friends face when her favorite song comes on. I want to be present. I don’t want to be hiding behind a screen.

To do this – I’m going to give myself some guidelines for future social events which I urge you to do as well.  Need a few suggestions? Here are mine.

1. Delete Foursquare – I never really use it. I honestly only downloaded it for free frites at Houlihan’s. (which they don’t offer anymore..psh!)

2. Never Tweet – When I am with my friends or family in a social setting, don’t tweet. Save it for home.

3. Latergram – It’s cool to take pictures at events, but I don’t need to spend 5-10 minutes looking for the best angle or Instagram filter to show off whatever fun event I’m at. I’ll save the editing for another setting. Post a “latergram” when I get home.

4. Vine – I’m not good at Vine. I will stop trying to be and never take videos…ever.

5. Facebook – Same with Twitter, save the status updates for later. Also, most of the time I’m already be tagged in a photo or status of a friend of mine anyways.

Ahhhh. Refreshing.

Now, all of these things sound super great and awesome. But, I think this will call for a follow up blog. Bring it on, weekend! Let’s do this.

Challenge accepted.