Online Experience Sharing
“This tea tastes so beautiful!” — I proclaim to my friend beside me, after a few long enjoyable sips.
“This coffee is so rich!” — I broadcast to my followers half way through tasting.
“These yoga shorts are so comfortable!” — I might get paid to say at some point in the future.
Can we enjoy and share without removing from the experience, or do we give something away with the sharing?
Although we exist somewhere within our own island of personal experience, we are still social beings gifted with the ability to communicate artfully. As such, we find positive, social interaction to be enriching; we find the frequent, cross-pollination of ideas and emotions to be healthy for our growth and entertaining to our existence.
This manner in which we exchange and transmit our thoughts is ever changing. My experiments in cohering with some popular changes has lead me to some unclear territory.
Our pollination of thoughts doesn’t happen quite as coincidentally as the wind would blow plant matter between lands, or as slowly as the sea would carry seeds across islands. For our humanity, it’s (most currently) our social media feeds, curated to our tastes, which most ubiquitously present us with ideas to feed on.
As I wanted to engage outside my proximate cluster of islands, I spent 10 days of fresh new year enthusiasm posting daily interests to Instagram and tagging them relevantly.
I was ideally expecting some mutual, engagement and communication around these topics of interest. What I ended up with was instead, was just that addiction to the reward circuit of minutely gratifying social approval we get from insipid ‘likes’. I had once stamped it out years ago by deactivating Facebook and enjoyed my time without it.
I didn’t want to just get likes, and I didn’t want to engage with only my current friends. I thought I might be doing things the wrong way, a bit out of touch, a bit like a dad on Snapchat.
I guess it’s not often other people share quite so many of our interests at once, and they certainly don’t engage with them to any great extent through the shared images on our online profiles. I worried I would bore my audience of largely real life friends with things they were not interested in.
Other than when one’s brand is themself and their livelihood, (a Yoga teacher, a coffee roaster). The hip way of doing things would appear to be to create an account for each of the interests I attempt to be connoisseur of. I imagine coffee enthusiasts are more likely to follow @coffee_tasting than @charris0 who just happens to occasionally post about coffee.
But where would this hobbyist connoisseuring end?
Would I create an account for tea, a separate one for coffee, one for plant based food, an account for habits, one for productivity and one for happiness? An account for fine dining, an account for Andalusian mountain hiking, another for the yearly gathering of people around mdma, tea and progressive conversations?
Part of me sees the opportunity to engage with an extended group of otherwise inaccessible people, and wants to join in on doing so by composing these little snapshots of the things I enjoy and transmitting them in an beaconing trail of hopefully, interesting content. But is this really just a dressed up quest for gratification via social approval? Or is there more fulfilling engagement possible?
It would be remiss of me not to mention the fact that, at the back of many of our minds, there exists the hope of one day being compensated for our advocacy of the products and suppliers we enjoy — via partnerships with them. Would this negatively affect my decision making bias? Would I trust myself to be duly diligent with every partnering company, such that I would be happy vouching for them, their morals, their practices? Would all of this curation time be enough for a full time job and only worth embarking on for one full time interest?
Most of all, I worry about all these extrinsic influences debasing our experience of the present, blurring our reasons for doing and reducing our time spent enjoying.
Like many others, I love creating, so what’s a few time-lapses of the things I already enjoy? That doesn’t seem harmful. What about when it’s done more consciously for sharing, is that less genuine?
As I sit here mulling this over and sharing it with you, my (Shui Xian Bai Zhen) white tea has been left to become unpleasantly cool.
I can’t help but admire the likes of the Chinese tea ceremony as an example of an alternative practice with more presence. The act of elevating something as beautifully simple as tea to occupy one’s whole experience. The uninterrupted enjoyment of our delicate fleeting moments, untainted by forward planning thoughts of social approval and curation for an audience.
Is it possible to embrace this new sharing and broadcasting of engagement while upholding long standing positive virtues like that of being fully present? Does a happy balance exist, where we can spend some days enjoying new things, not sharing the pure enjoyment of experience beyond ourselves, then some days sharing curated enjoyment with others? Or will the sharing always, in some little or large way, negatively detract from the present enjoyment. Could the experience plus the sharing result in enjoyment greater than the experience itself? And Is this detrimental in the long term?
We don’t seem to be decided yet, please let me know your thoughts.