One of the funniest movies of all time, SpaceBalls, has a scene where the villain asks one of his henchman about the video they are watching, a video of themselves. “You’re looking at now, Sir. Everything that is happening now is happening now.” They are a movie watching a movie about the movie.
After listening to the peerless Louis CK talk about the culture of videoing and sharing our existence (NSFW–but who cares, it’s hilarious), I thought about that SpaceBalls scene. Today people, especially us millennials, are not really in the now, but spend our time capturing the now.
Magazine covers and social commentators wrongfully call this narcissism. But ever since the camera was invented everyone has done this: it’s the urge to collect memories that will one day mature into nostalgia you can share with loved ones.The twist today is that so much of the present is being captured for the sake of sharing it right away. Our moments, conversations, even our meals, don’t have much value until they are captured, shared, and given value by everyone else. A Like, a retweet, or a share is what makes your now valuable.
The folks who spend a lot of time on their lawn shaking their fist at the youngins claim that this is endemic of a bunch of self-centered, disconnected derps. But this dynamic is not so much about believing your life experiences are highly awesome, but about putting a lot of your experiences out there and expecting that others will give those experiences some additional value. This can become real tricky, though, when the value of your experiences, and, let’s be honest, your own self-worth, is completely tied up to what others think. It’s no longer sharing, but asking for an assessment.