Wandering with my eyes and heart open, searching for pieces to add to my own personal big picture.

Tag: technology

Reality is Not The Curated Fragments of Life in the Media

Curated fragments of life quote with book cover background.

“Now instead of following their favorite celebrity on social media, ONI users could become their favorite celebrity for a few minutes each day. Exist inside their skin. Live short, heavily curated fragments of far more glamourous lives.”

Ready Player Two by Ernest Cline

Let’s put an emphasis on “heavily curated fragments” and talk about that for a few paragraphs, shall we?

In the “Earl,” that’s what they call IRL (in real life) in the book, we all project a curated image as we move through our daily lives. At work, at the grocery store, at the playground with other parents, etc., people mostly see what we want them to see. We don’t walk around with our life story on our sleeves for everyone to see.

The more time we spend with people though, the more they know us and our secrets, the things we try to keep from the public eye. We don’t hide them for nefarious reasons. We’re not hidden criminals…I hope…mostly. We all have a public and a private image.

Inevitably, those small quirks that make us unique, or those bad habits we try to hide from public view, slip out into the Earl from time to time. We react badly to an offense. Our children thrash our last nerve. A rough day at the office turns into road rage on the way home, the middle finger goes up, harsh words are spoken. It happens. But we quickly return to our persona.

At home, with our closest family and friends, we are a different person. Our guard goes down and we are more ourselves.

On the internet, social media especially? How much more so? How many different personalities do have? How many “heavily curated fragments” of ourselves do we present? It depends on the individual. Celebrities, politicians, people that depend on public favor, I’m sure have a lot of work to do maintaining an image that doesn’t do them damage.

You can’t please everyone all the time.

Humans are flawed. We make mistakes. We ruin things and create messes with people. That doesn’t make us bad people, but when you’re trying to sell an image…well…it’s best to curate one that is appetizing to as many people as possible.

But what about us “normal”? I’m not selling an image to my family and friends. Or am I? This blog is one curated image that I project to the public. It’s certainly not all of me on the page. There are other sides of me that are my private thoughts, though it may seem like you’re getting all of me.

And escaping from dull reality into fiction isn’t a new thing. We used to tell stories, then read books, listen to the radio, watch movies, and then tv.  We have always wondered what someone else’s life would be like and assumed that it would be better or more exciting than our own. It usually isn’t.

What if we could see our own lives curated in the same way? Would we be jealous of ourselves and wish to escape into that life?

Have you read Ready Player Tw0? Did you read Ready Player One? Or watch the movie? Comment and let me know what you think!

If you’re interested in my monthly reading newsletter, where I describe all my juicy immediate afterthoughts of the books I read, along with various other hilarious tidbits, subscribe by signing up for it HERE!

The Rabbit Hole of “Curated”


Stick with me here. It’s worth it!

I started reading a great book this morning called, “The Revenge of Analog – Real Things and Why They Matter” by David Sax. It was recommended in an article about keeping physical journals, ones that you write…by hand…with a pen!

I’ve been keeping journals on and off since high school. I find it interesting how little my handwriting has changed over the years and how much it can drastically change in a week or even a day when I’m rushing or angry.

But sometimes I wonder, will anyone ever read them? I sincerely hope they don’t! Or at least not while I’m alive. Most of them are filled with craziness that I wouldn’t normally express. Something about writing every single piece of bullshit out with a pen often helps me let said bullshit go. If I can’t say it, I write it, and then I feel better.

I have taken long and short breaks from journaling over the last..um..thirty years. The longest break was in my early twenties. Man, I wish I had taken the time to write things down back then, but maybe that’s just stuff best forgotten.

Then there are times when I wonder what the point of all this writing is; the futility of writing down thoughts that never see the light of day, the lists, the dreams, the angry rants. There’s just so much there, even if I wanted to, I’d be hard pressed to go back and make any sense of it on a regular basis. Then an interview on The Creative Nonfiction Podcast gave a great idea to help me fix that!

The author being interviewed said he looked back on his journals and notes every month and put together a newsletter for his audience of all the most interesting things he found, ideas, and quotes. I don’t have a big audience to share that kind of thing with and even if I did, I’m not sure they’d want to see that far into my reality. But it would be a healthy exercise for me to take an hour or two a month to read what I wrote the last thirty days and write myself a nice summary. I tend to forget the ups and downs in month, or a week for that matter, and this practice might shed some warm light on my attitude changes. There may even be a blog post in there.

You see, I’m one of those people that has a short attention span and a weak memory. When I’m feeling good, I think I’ve always felt good. When I’m feeling down, I get depressed and think I’ve always been down. It’s weird but the best way for me to combat that is to write things down.

Want to know something weirder? I do the same thing about making dinner. If I haven’t had time to make dinner for my family for a couple days in a row, I get it in my head that we are ALWAYS going out to eat or scrounging for frozen pizza. If I write what I made for dinner on the calendar, I can look back on that last few weeks and reassure myself that Taco Bell employees do not know us by our first names.

I guess I should circle this back to that book I started reading this morning. You do know this post is about a thought I had while reading that book, don’t you? Welcome to my brain. It’s fun. Trust me.

Reading that book made me think about the word “curated.”

“Curated” is an adjective that means “(of online content, merchandise, information, etc.) selected, organized, and presented using professional or expert knowledge.” It has come up in my thinking a couple times this week.

When you hear the word curated, you probably think of museums but in this case, I’m thinking about printed magazines and books.

Here’s the deal. (That’s for my husband. He hears that sentence several times a day from me.) The internet is an amazing place because everyone can put their “art” out in the world for free. You can have a free social media page, keep a blog or vlog, self-publish a book, record your music and have people all over the world download it, or put your visual art up for the world to see and love. It’s a world of infinite and free information! But there is a down side. It’s not all worth spending time on and we each only have so much time and attention!

So here we are scrolling through our social media pages, hopping from one blog post to another, randomly finding and playing music, and reading “news” article after article. It feels like a waste of time.

How can we fix this?! How can we spend our currency of time and attention more wisely? Enter “curated” content, otherwise known as a book, magazine, music album, or “TV” station. Yep, it turns out that those that can pay a little extra are moving back towards things like book stores, paper magazines, and news stations for their information. It seems we’d all gladly pay someone we trust to sift through all that content that’s being created and present us with curated information that has already been vetted, organized, and is relevant to our needs. The hard part is finding an author or an organization you can trust!

It’s amazing to me how we create new technologies that will open up the room and air things out like a big spring cleaning. People rush in to see it all and find new ways to use it, but when the dust settles, the tried and true comes back. The old ways with a fresh new look!

The “Evil” of Smart Phones

Ahh, the perennial post about the evils of smartphones. Apparently, they are ruining our relationships and destroying our children’s minds because they don’t have the skills to cope with their use. Really? I find that line of thinking so strange. I quickly started to comment out of rage against such thinking and then stopped before I hit send. I copied it to a memo on my phone, added more in a couple of minutes, and then put it away to finish eating my breakfast and make something for my son before he left for work. I talked to them about what I heard and my reaction. They could see I had passionate feelings about it and told me they thought I might be overreacting. There are always going to be people like that, people that are afraid of new things, people that have a harder time seeing the future or coping with changes. “Let it go,” my young adult son tells me, “Focus on the positive.”

But here I am, an hour later, still upset. I decided to journal about it. Maybe it’ll be a blog post. Oh, who am I trying to kid! Of course, it will be a blog post!

I copied the initial response and shared it to myself from my phone so that I could have it on my computer. I can type better and edit easier with all my fingers. And here I am, thinking about it and wondering how to put my thoughts into positive words.

First of all, about 90% of my current friends I met online through Yahoo groups on the computer in the early 2000’s and on Facebook on my phone in the second decade. If it weren’t for those groups, I’d be a lonely mess. I’d have met far fewer people that share my interests and I’d never would have gotten the help I needed for my anxiety. Our whole lifestyle changed for the better because I was able to search for answers on the internet.

Second, smartphones made our education style way more exciting. While out in the world, we can search for answers on the spot. We can find friends to meet, places to go, food to eat, directions, and more information about the thing we are looking at and curious about at that moment. It has enhanced our lives in a million ways! And I can stay connected to my friends and family at the same time. My Mother-in-law can call me for help wherever I am. My husband can know when we’ll be home. My brother can share his life with us from the other side of the country. And my Dad can meet us for pizza any day. Smartphones connect us to people. That’s who’s on the other end of the phone. Real people.

And another thing…I think I’ll file this under “rants”…humans crave attention, connection to other people. Smartphones can give that to them. Children can and will learn to navigate the world with the phones by using them. They will do so much better than us because they grew up with them, just like we are better at computers than our parents because we grew up using them. Instead of their own family and the neighbors to associate with, they have the whole world at their fingertips. If your children are more interested in their phones than their family, then make your family more inviting maybe? Maybe connect with them via the phone and more. I text my sons from across the room. I text my husband when he’s out in the garage. I share funny things I find online. And when we eat dinner, sometimes one of them answers a message because there is a person they care about on the other end. Sometimes the phone will ring and I’ll look at it and decide whether it’s urgent or not. I don’t discourage that. Why would I? What if my son’s girlfriend’s car broke down or my Mom was headed to the hospital? Should I ignore the call for help because I’m having dinner with my husband?

Yes, we are still adjusting to the new media. We’re inventing new social standards. And there are crappy people on the internet too. But, overall, the world is better for smart phones. We are better people because we have them.

Smartphones are not ruining your relationships. YOU are ruining your relationships with your phone, just like you could with anything else. The objects aren’t doing it. You are. And we all were ruining our relationships before phones with sports, alcohol, hobbies, cars, books, tv, etc. Everyone has an escape mechanism. Don’t blame the object. Change your behavior.

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