There's Gotta Be More To Life

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*In need of a drinking game this weekend? Take a shot whenever I say "community," "life," or "real" and I'm sure you'll get trashed.*

How does that saying go? “Life is what happens when you're busy making other plans.” Well, for me, it was more like “life is what happens when you're on your couch scrolling through Instagram.” It's pretty safe to say that I was a pretty passive participant in my life up until fairly recently; I would go with the flow, not do anything outside of my comfort zone, and use social media as my form of socialization. As I've said before, social media provides us with a unique opportunity to connect with people we may not have ever crossed paths with, but we can't allow it to be more than just a tool for making connections and sharing content with the masses. From personal experience, we can get lost in those digital connections and forget to participate in the real world. Believe it or not, the world still turns when you're on your phone scrolling through your feed. Time doesn't stand still to allow you to catch up on Instagram stories; Life goes on and it will go on without you if you neglect to be present.

Now, the “life” I am referring to is two-fold. There is your everyday life (job, friends, family, and other obligations) and the life going on in the world around you, both of which may include a healthy dose of social media, but should not be dominated by it. Social media and the Internet allow us to get to know each other, learn about other communities, and stay up-to-date on current events, however, that becomes a problem when it ends up being the only source of that information. If your interactions and experiences are strictly virtual or solely done with the intent for consumption via social media, you are given the false sense of actively participating in your life. When your phone is just as present as you are at an event, gathering, or outing, you lose touch with the real people you encounter every day. 

I was just recently reminded of the responsibility we have to support not only our friends and people we care about, but also the greater communities that we are a part of. A few days ago I posted something along these lines in my Instagram stories after attending a peaceful rally in protest of the presence of the Patriot Prayer group in San Francisco. I had intended to attend an event that day to meet up with some fellow health/wellness friends from the Bay Area to sweat, eat, and mingle. I was really excited to see some friends, meet new people, and get to know some ladies in real life that I hadn't met in person yet. However, things changed. Life happened — REAL life happened and I couldn't continue to complain about the state of our nation without doing something to show my support for the diverse community I am so lucky to be a part of and stand up against injustices that my fellow citizens encounter every day. I am so grateful for the community that Instagram has given me. I have met some of my closest friends via the Gram and I started posting about health and wellness because I wanted to interact with individuals with similar lifestyles. It's amazing when you can find people that just GET you, but I think we get so caught up in fostering relationships with those that lead lives similar to our own that we forget to learn about people from different walks of life. By default, we are citizens of our city, our country, and our world and it's important not to neglect our roles in those communities. San Francisco in particular is an incredibly diverse city and I hadn't really taken notice of that until last Saturday afternoon standing in a huge crowd in Harvey Milk Plaza. Thousands of people of varying backgrounds coming together with one purpose- to show that San Francisco is a city for love, acceptance, and justice. THAT is what makes America great and those are the moments that I will remember when I'm old and gray. 

SO MUCH life happens outside of my feed and although I try to document bits and pieces through stories, it's not always possible and, quite honestly, it's not always something I want to do. I won't pretend like I don't get sucked into the rabbit hole of social media on a daily basis. It's a habit that I am actively trying to break. As is most things in my life, my relationship with social media is a work in progress, but I try not to let it monopolize my thoughts or dictate my actions. As much as I love you all, I can't let an app get in the way of actual life. When my hand instinctively reaches for my phone in social settings or during idle moments, all it does is inhibit me from truly enjoying the company of others, silence, or the show that I am watching. When I am so consumed by social media, I am not truly present in my everyday life; I am completely stuck in these virtual communities that can be anything but reality. If I notice someone has been MIA, I don't get worried or concerned about their absence. Lack of social media activity isn't due to lack of social activity, in fact, it's the exact opposite. I love to share what I'm up to and how my life is going, but I'll let you know all of that once I am able to take a break from living. For me, life is about learning, spending time with my loved ones, and challenging myself to be a better person and there is no possible way that I could accomplish that without putting my phone down. There is a movement on Instagram that preaches about being “real,” but no matter how much of your life you share, what's real is the life you are leading when you're not on your phone.

The universe won't implode if you don't post for a day (or even a week *gasp*) and I can promise you that you will never regret the time you spent completely disconnected. You can quote me on that. It's liberating and refreshing to focus on what's in front of you rather than what an influencer ate for lunch or bought at the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale (because let's be honest, 9 times out of 10, it's that same leather jacket everyone else bought). As much as my teenage sister might disagree, Instagram isn't the meaning of life and social media isn't the only way to socialize. At the end of the day, what makes me feel good are the relationships I have, the work that I do, and the community that I live in and although some of those opportunities came about via social media, they take place out here in the wild. 

Jessica AlbaveraComment