Where I Am, What I Am Doing and Who I Am With – Part 5: I Share Therefore I Am

Last one. This is a really tricky one. It’s not black and white. Sharing is powerful but secondary to getting the best out of where I am, what I am doing and who I am with.

1st June 2008, I had the privilege of attending the first final of the Indian Premier League in Mumbai.  The match was won by the Rajasthan Royals with a single off the last ball of the match.  It was an amazing experience made all the more special by my being the guest of the owners of the winning side.  That meant I got to mingle with some heroes for the whole weekend, including the legendary Shane Warne.

The people around me at the match had been involved in setting up and managing the team. Their journey had been long and dramatic.  Despite the presence of people like Shane, their ultimate victory was considered extremely unlikely when the tournament started.

I noticed something I thought odd taking place as that last ball was bowled.  Many around me had video cameras and phones out to record the dramatic final moments.

When we got back to the hotel it was on the TV and already on YouTube.  I just checked, it is all still there.

It struck me as insane to watch that frantic final ball on a small screen when it was happening right there, right then and right in front of tens of tumultuous thousands of us.  I suggested to a few close to me that we turn off the gadgets, look up and live this moment.  I think that was when the title of this series started to form in my mind.

I kicked off in Part 1 with a reference to Sherry Turkle’s TED Talk, “Connected But Alone”.  It makes countless brilliant points and is at great pains to be balanced. One of the many interesting points she makes relates to the behaviour of sharing for the sake of sharing, a mentality she describes  as, “I share therefore I am”, through which we view solitude as a problem to be solved by making connections.  As a result we are at risk of losing the ability to be comfortably alone and to reflect, the drug of connection is just too easily available and highly addictive.  There are times when this habit extends to a failure to connect, not just with ourselves, but with the people we are with and the experiences we are having.  It was early days, but the need to record the final moments of that cricket match, albeit to share later in those less connected days, at the expense of simply experiencing it, was an early symptom of this.

I really would love to know what you think about this.  I have been wrestling with these topics for a while, trying to strike a balance.  I doubt very much that I have got it all right.

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10 thoughts on “Where I Am, What I Am Doing and Who I Am With – Part 5: I Share Therefore I Am

  1. I work in an industry whose prime purpose is to capture events for others to see, whether scripted or not. I was discussing news gathering and production with one of our senior editors recently and whether the impact of unstructured or informal news gathering was at all relevant to formalised, planned and scripted journalism. The answer was an unequivocal ‘yes’. Whether we like it or not, we increasingly see instances of footage shot by amateurs appearing on YouTube, and then subsequently appearing on broadcast TV. Is that wrong ?

    I come at this from an empowerment perspective. It used to be the case that if we wanted to record moving images in our day to day lives, we had ti invest in a very expensive (and often very large) camcorder which was both impractical and gave limited results. Roll the clock forward 10-20 years and we now have the ability to capture footage, in full HD, from the comfort of our mobile device. Still not production-ready quality but it’s getting damn close. And for most people, that’s good enough.

    So what’s that got to do with social, you ask ? Ask a broader question: why capture ANYTHING ? You do it because you want a lasting memory of an event, a time, a place. Do you know who will watch it ? No. But you do it because once the event has gone, it’s gone and will never return. Before, you had no choice since you had nothing on which to record the event, but now you do. I think this is nothing more than an evolution of fixed image cameras, and I’m sure you wouldn’t have thought anything wrong in someone taking a snap of that final bowl, that final run or the cheering that ensued. I also doubt that this capturing of the event detracts from enjoying the final scenes either – it certainly wouldn’t for me.

    I think we should divorce our ability to record events in a multitude of different media with a desire to share them in whatever form takes our fancy. I was going through my digital photo collection this weekend – some 18,000 images – and thought that i would have never captured my kids growing up in such a granular way before the advent of digital. I can now push the latest albums to my parent’s digital photo frame 200 miles away so when the come down for their morning coffee they can see events that took place that weekend. I can upload the same images on Facebook so friends in Australia or the US can see what I’ve been up to. Go back 20 years and this would have been unthinkable, yet think of the benefits that all will derive from such social sharing. But none of the above has anything to do with not enjoying the events in question as much as when I couldn’t share so easily.

    So it is with all of this taken into consideration that I fundamentally disagree with Sherry Trifle’s TED talk. We share because we have always shared. We connect because we have always connected. What you’re seeing is an expansion of the ways in which we can do that sharing which, IMHO, is progress.

    I would rename this blog post “I capture because I can”.

    • Partly because the actual title is flippin long it barely fits in a tweet and partly because it is what I am thinking about most often in this series I could have retitled it “Balance”.

      I too questioned the “I share Therefore I am” line. Sharing is mostly good, enriching and often utterly amazing. I am on the record elsewhere saying that much of what I did last year revolved around getting the best out of it all. That is continuing into this year in particular with Jive and Chatter and a ruthless pursuit of collaboration and connectedness. At times I have noticed myself and others seeking to connect as a reflex when we might better served living the moment, getting something done or thinking.

      This balance is tough. I am trying to work it out without lurching from open extreme to the other.

      I actually took a lot of footage and photos at that cricket match. I still have them. However, watching the final play through a view finder struck me as plain stupid. I just watched it. It was the culmination of a long and unlikely story of sporting triumph from some adversity. A bit like one of those rather unlikely movies you see but in this case entirely true.

      Barely an hour after I posted this I came across a photo on FB that was beaming to put it mildly and truly brightened my day and caused me to smile broadly. I was glad it had been shared.

      To me this series has been about working out how to get the best out of it all. Sometimes I am choosing to avoid connectedness beyond where I am so as to get the most out of the moment.

      Anthony

  2. Hmmm…not convinced. It’s a tough one though, I grant you. I suppose it depends whether this is viewed as an addiction like smoking or an evolution in human behaviour. If the former, there are people out there that don’t want to give up, despite everyone telling them to. In fact, they positively enjoy smoking. If the latter then this is just an example of people evolving at different rates.

    I think I fit somewhere between the two. I positively enjoy my daily diet of RSS, Twitter etc. It’s how I keep up to speed with what’s going on in the world. I never, ever read a paper newspaper anymore, not even on a Sunday. In fact I think I am now actually better informed than when I used to kill a few rainforests and the odd disc in my back lugging the Sunday Times home.. So for me to switch off for 24 hours I would lose out on all that information and, furthermore, I see nothing negative in being constantly connected. I fact nobody in my family does either. We still have huge amounts of family time, we still talk, we still sit down for breakfast, lunch and dinner together. We still get fresh air, and I still train on my bike.

    So, basically, I’m trying to understand what benefit I would derive from switching my iPad or MacBook off. Thoughts on a (virtual) postcard.

    • So do I, the highlight of my week was connecting a lot of people to achieve something previously impossible. Making a customer happy as a result and a seeing a previously stressed person get a lift from collaboration AND go home on time.

      I sometimes write while listening to a podcast and reading multiple things at once. That makes me feel brilliant.

      Other times I just turn it all off and go for a walk and a talk, like today. In the course of that I realised a few new things.

      Then we all cooked and laughed.

      Then (obviously) I turned it all on again.

      Anthony

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