December 30, 2017

Time to "Like" Being There

The best thing about returning to places is that the self-imposed pressure to maximize my time there is lifted. Not completely, but lifted so much to the point where I can finally enjoy a museum or two (or three). I can also put my phone back in my pocket because capturing photos isn't my main objective anymore and sometimes I don't even need to use Google Maps to get around.

There are indeed photos of my third journey to Barcelona, but not nearly as many as a typical nine-day trip would normally collect. Most of the photos are also from my dear friend, Kathleen, who joined Marc and me for this Christmas.

There are two main reasons I don't have over two hundred photos from this trip (really, I think on my most photo-rrific adventures, I was averaging over twenty-five photos per day).

1. I purposefully left my main cell phone* and Instagram connection at home. Turned off. I wanted a real break from work, constant texting, and feeling the ridiculous need to get a "data-hit" every ten to fifteen minutes. No Instagram to post onto? No reason to take so many photos!

2. Barcelona is extremely photogenic. That does not mean I have to be chained to viewing the beauty from behind a phone camera lens the entire time! Because even though I have prided myself on being able to step away from my semi-connected phones during vacations, I have still succumbed to the 2017 addiction of regularly updating and posting on Instagram.

*Yes, I have two smart phones, but it's not my fault that Apple created software update dependency and my totally fine iPhone 4 that hasn't been able to update since 2014 is basically just a glorified iPod touch now. The latest blow has been that my FaceTime no longer works when calling Apple users who have downloaded the most recent iOS 11 update. Oh well.

I really liked Instagram. So much that it would consume large chunks of my days, thoughts, and reality. And when I feel like my time freedom is being compromised, it's only a matter of real time before I find some way to break free. I deleted all the game apps on my iPod back in 2012. I have never once downloaded or played another game on my phone or iPod since. I deleted my Facebook account in 2014, and have not missed it. Ever.

Last year I took a huge break from blogging, but knew I would come back to it because, for me, writing is an investment worth pursuing. Writing is my art expression of choice. But this blog had become an endless pursuit of audience building and social media trolling, and I had to step away to be normal about writing again.

With Instagram, I took a much needed break over Christmas, and this break acted just as well as a test for myself. I knew if I missed it, it would still be there and I could go back to it. I knew if I got so desperate as to re-download the app and sign-in on my old iPhone, I could do it.

I was not a gamer. Goodbye, games.

I was not a Facebook person. Goodbye, Facebook.

I am not actually a photographer. Instagram added the advertisements and the stories, and I knew I wouldn't be able to stick with it forever. And ultimately: I did not miss it one bit.

It's okay if the only "like" I get from a trip or experience is that I like being there.

In fact, it's more than okay, it's awesome and it's real.

Goodbye, Instagram.

My profile will continue to exist as historical facts, so all my hashtag links will remain and the years of documented adventures will still be accessible. Instagram peer pressure taught me a lot about how to take better photos and I really appreciate that. But I don't need to post instant stories or twice a day on my feed anymore. If you've got an important update for me to know about, you'll tell me. Or I'll find out from somebody else. Being late to the social information party never got me down.

I am a writer. I knew I was a writer ever since I got my first journal in 1996. Even after I can't be a gym rat anymore, I will still be able to be a writer. I am meant to write; I am not here to take so many photos that I don't have time to write my thoughts, characters, and stories. Why did I need to get better at taking pictures? Why did I need to receive virtual approval from others that pictures or videos of my experiences were worthwhile? We get so caught up in these handheld computers we call cell phones and this "cool app" and that "cool connection" that we are missing the moments that are happening right in front of us.

I don't know if my blogging activity will necessarily increase exponentially, but the opportunity to write more will. What I did not want to happen was in five more years, I would be ready to write a book and it would be about Instagram because that was the main thing I would have been doing the whole time.

A life is not well-lived on a cell phone, and I would rather have hundreds of actual present-life experiences than hundreds of likes and comments.