The ceiling of the Sistine Chapel was finished in 1512 after more than four years of work by Michelangelo. It is unquestionably one of the most beautiful and famous ceilings in the world. One of the highlights of my summer was standing beneath this world-famous artistic masterpiece, awestruck. As I looked to my side to see if the hundreds of other fanny pack-carrying tourists were as stricken by its beauty as I was, I was shocked to see numerous eyeballs staring at Blackberrys and iPhones instead of at the 300-plus figures colorfully depicted above them. It appeared that Chris was “checking into” the Sistine Chapel, while Lisa shared a picture on her Facebook profile of some battling naked figures in the famous mural and then eagerly continued to update her screen to check for notifications.
In the past decade, Facebook has proven to be an effective means for people to share stories and images from their lives with family, friends, coworkers and Sarah What’s-Her-Name that they met at that one party that one time. With just the simple click of a smartphone touch screen, you can “mobile-ly upload” an image or video of a special moment to your profile and share it with hundreds or thousands of your “closest” friends instantly. But why does that random girl from your 11th grade English class need to experience the Sistine Chapel with you?
The truth is, she doesn’t. With the ever-evolving popularity contest of social media, the Facebook generation has started to lose sight of what is most important. Instead of thinking about how beautiful a landscape is, we have started to think in terms of how many likes or comments a picture of it will receive. Your enjoyment of your own life is no longer important; what’s important now is the development of your digital persona.
Now, sharing on Facebook does have its advantages. It’s much simpler to post a picture than have to send it 15 times in e-mails to different people. However, when your usage becomes so excessive and intrusive that it lessens your ability to enjoy real-life experiences, there is a problem. Social networks should be a means of sharing special life moments without inhibiting them.
This rule of thumb should be applied to more than just one’s travels and major life milestones. We have all seen the group of freshmen eating in the dining hall, each with one eye on their chicken broccoli bake and the other on their iPhone. While this moment may not be as inspiring as admiring the Sistine Chapel, it — like all of life’s moments — is just as fleeting and special. Before you know it, you will be sitting on the plane back from Europe wishing you had eaten one more cup of gelato, or sitting at graduation in the Big House longing to hang out with all of your friends one last time.
So don’t live a life destined to be filled with social network-induced regret. Take the advice you’ve heard a million times and just put the phone away. Take a deep breath and enjoy where you are and what you are doing at that very moment. Enjoy your friends, enjoy your food, enjoy the Sistine Chapel and enjoy the moments you will never have back again. It may sound like a Hallmark card, but it’s advice you won’t regret following. Save your Facebook-ing for later — like when you’re procrastinating in the UGLi.
Michael Nevitt is a LSA junior.