What if I die and no one remembers me? Does it make my life any less valid? I’ve been asking myself these questions lately as I find myself feeling compelled to share my life online.
When I got a Flickr account in 2006, I felt compelled to publish every good photo I took. In turn, I felt compelled to document my life in photos so I could share those photos — my life — on Flickr. Then I got a Facebook and Twitter account, and I began to feel compelled to share my life there, too. I enjoyed the response, and that drove me to share more. There’s nothing wrong with the impulse to share experiences, but I have to believe that my life is worth living regardless of whether I’m acknowledged for it.
Maybe I’m having a midlife moment. I’m 42 years old. It’s unclear whether I’ve made a mark on the world. And it’s time to decide whether or not I care. I don’t have kids, my parents are getting older, and I don’t have a lot of siblings or cousins. Who is going to remember me? And does it even matter.
On the one hand, I am coming to terms with my nature. I need to communicate with others, to create my own expression and share it with the world. Looking at people’s enthusiastic self-expression in social media outlets, I can see that I am not alone.
On the other hand, I must resist the compulsion to share photos and status updates in order to add value to my experiences. I don’t need to be applauded for being cool or interesting or cultured. I don’t have to be told I have good taste or talent. It feels good, but becoming addicted to acknowledgment leads to a letdown when I don’t get it.
For a year or two now, I’ve debated whether to take my camera on certain adventures. I want to “show the folks back home!” but the equipment weighs me down and cramps my ability to enjoy my own adventure. I told my husband that I was beginning to question whether I could really experience a moment and record it at the same time, and ever since then he tells me, “live the moment, don’t record it.”
I’m not about to stop publishing to social media, but I will continue to remind myself that what matters is not whether people love your life when you’re dead. What matters is that you love your life while you’re living.