The Paradox of Selfish Moments

Today is a lovely day in my hometown.  Sunny, temperature in the low 70’s.  The sounds of the small town wilderness wafted around the backyard as I sat, reading quietly.  Quite idyllic.

I was absorbed in my book, when two cardinals, Mr. Cardinal and Cardinal Junior, flitted down from the sky and perched on the fence not 15 feet away.  The two chirruped back and forth for a while before Mr. Cardinal hopped down onto the back porch.  I watched as he eyed a small patch of tall sunflowers, shooting glances at one that drooped and faced the ground.  Bracing himself, he leaped up and hovered long enough to grasp a sunflower seed in his beak and wrench it away from the flower before landing again on the porch.  Rather than eat the seed immediately he took flight, and alighting on the fence, proceeded to feed the prize to Cardinal Junior, whose mouth was opened wide in expectation.

It was one of those small miracles that nature grants to us on occasion.  My book forgotten, I took in the spectacle as it was repeated several times.  Then I found myself wishing I had my camera, to record the event for others to witness too.  “Why is that?” I wondered.  Why do I feel the need to capture this moment that has been given to me in high, yet imperfect definition?

We live in a world where every moment of our lives can be and is uploaded to the internet, that vast web of information, to be available to whomever we choose.  This could be our family and friends.  This could be thousands or even millions of people.  In is the so-called “digital age”, the question I was pondering is one that I’d never really given a lot of thought to: does sharing unique moments widely, even blindly, in any way degrade or make less special the moment itself?

The wide availability of recorded audio and video is a part of technology’s evolution that cannot be ignored, and the internet multiples that availability exponentially.  This can be a wonderful thing.  I’m listening to a song on YouTube while typing a blog post that will be read by at least a few people.  Some people might like it; the internet makes it possible for them to read it, and for me to pull up any song I want.  My father posts videos of our choir concerts online, quite an easy way to share them with folks who couldn’t be there in person.

In and of itself, I suppose, recording and sharing a clip of two charming and adorable songbirds wouldn’t be a bad thing.  Where the issue arises, I think, is when sharing occurs in excess.  It seems extremely easy to share more than we should.  Not every moment of our lives matters to everyone else, regardless of what our egos or social networking sites may tell us.  The internet can be a massive time sink, even more so if we are sharing tons of drivel and politely watching and reading the drivel of our “friends” and “liking” it too.

Most importantly, if we spend too much time posting about cute cardinals etcetera, we will miss the small, miraculous moments that are most worth living for.   The internet makes sharing those moments with others, along with musings and updates that people will want to hear about.  But let’s take a step back for once.  The world is a lot better at surprising and delighting us than we can imagine.  With that in mind, I bid you all a good evening.  Enjoy it outdoors, or with a good book or someone you care about.  Open up a photo album instead of your My Pictures folder.  Heaven knows I need to.  In general, it is frowned upon to be selfish, but I think maybe an exception can be made for these small moments.  “The Paradox of Selfish Moments” I’ll call it.

See y’all later.  Take care.  DFTBA.

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