There exists an age-old philosophical problem. It goes like this: “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” The question asks us if reality exists, regardless of whether or not someone is there to perceive it.
Instead of unleashing my inner philosophy nerd, I’d like to draw a parallel between this classic thought experiment and our current society. That being said, I encourage you to look up the forest debate, if mind-blowing philosophy suits your fancy.
In the digital age, it is common to share our lives online, as a means of connecting with friends, family, and so forth. Whether this is done through rants for our opinions, statuses for our relationships, or photos for demonstration, social media outlets like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram make this form of sharing possible. Some might say we have developed a need to broadcast our lives through these media outlets.We take photos of our meals, vacations, outings, and the occasional good hair day.
To show just how clean we eat, how cultured we are, how much fun we have with our friends, or as outlets for vanity?
It seems we post our lives online to validate whatever aspect of ourselves we deem fit. Whether Facebook shows it or not, that hangout was still fun, that meal was still gourmet, and that exotic scenery still took your breath away. So why depend on others’ recognition of those experiences to fully appreciate them?
Contrary to the tree in an empty forest, most of us would concede that the reality of our existence is not threatened if we aren’t plugged into social media.
However, I suppose this was not meant to be a philosophical problem, as much as a social critique. Perhaps critique is too strong a word; observation is more like it. I have noted the growing tendency to divulge our lives via social media. This being the case, I don’t think there is anything necessarily wrong with sharing our thoughts and experiences with others on the worldwide web, so long as we do not depend on the recognition of others to validate our unique reality in this crowded forest called ‘life’.