Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Being “In the Moment” Amid Today’s Technology

November 5, 2009 by  
Filed under Livin in the Moment, Mindfulness, Wellness

I had an interesting conversation with my mom and sister when I was home in N.J. last weekend.

We were talking about Facebook, and my mom (who is active on Facebook herself) admitted how disconcerting it is to her when she sees someone at a concert, on a date, watching a movie, at a museum … who updates their status saying so.

She feels that by doing that, the person is not living “in the moment.”

My sister (who is 26 and came of age when Facebook was just for college kids like her at the time) agreed with my mom, and I gave her assessment some thought.

I’m of two minds, which I’ll share … but first let me lay the context. What brought this chat up was my Facebook status update a few weeks ago where I said, “Watching MILK–amazing movie, though it’s sad to me that even today, in 2009, equal rights don’t exist for everyone.”

My mom didn’t understand why I felt the need to post at all while watching a movie; in her mind, she would never think to share such information — why I felt compelled to get on my laptop or log on to Facebook mobile from my Blackberry was beyond her.

But it came naturally to me to whip out my phone and update my status. My husband was studying for his midterm upstairs, and I was watching it alone. In my mind, I was sharing an experience in my own way; I wasn’t doing anything “wrong.”

Knowing how many of my friends are big gay rights supporters (like myself) I knew there was a good chance it’d provoke some conversation; that I’d see some commentary following my post — even though it was done at 10 pm on a Saturday.

And I was right.

Sure enough, by the time I woke up, there were like 12 comments.

No, of course I didn’t write the post to attract comments, but I did recognize the potential of creating a dialogue; blogging has helped me cultivate that sense of what’s buzz-worthy and what’s not.

As a blogger and a consumer (and producer) of social media, I love to spur conversations — be it through my Facebook status updates, links I share, photos I post. It’s how I connect with friends and my blog readers alike.

Of course, I realize what I write (on my blog, Facebook, or Twitter) as a body image advocate/recovering disordered eater/30-something might not be interesting to everyone, but it might be interesting to someone.

Hence, I write. I write for me, and I write for my audience.

And the feedback/reaction I get (for better or worse) often helps fuel my next blog post.

Just as when I write a blog post and no one responds and I get a bit of a complex wondering “OMG, was it that boring, why did no one respond?!” … (I do still wonder that), when a Facebook status gets lots of comments, I know it was a good one and try to recreate that “success” again.

So to me, sharing experiences is a different way of being in the moment; it’s being in the moment but sharing it. It’s multi-tasking, but it’s done for the common good, if that makes any sense.

And it creates a community.

That said, I do see my mom’s point to an extent, too, which is why I say I’m of two minds here.

I am the first to admit that being in the moment is not something easy for someone like me who struggles with anxiety and perfectionist tendencies. So I do understand where she’s coming from, as well.

Case in point: often I’m in a moment … but thinking ten steps ahead. On a walk, but thinking about lunch.

At lunch, but thinking about the the conference call I need to make.

On the phone, but thinking about the e-mail I need to respond to.

Writing the e-mail, and thinking about the blog post I’d like to write tonight.

Writing the blog post, but thinking about how it will be received … it’s exhausting how my brain works; this is the “anxious brain” at work, as my therapist used to say. And it can be a real asset … or a pain in the ass, depending on your perspective and frame of mind at the moment.

To state the obvious, you could say it’s hard for me to be in the here and now.

And this is especially true when it comes to food/exercise issues, even now, even though I feel pretty recovered from my challenges and pretty secure about my recovery.

This is why running and journaling in my personal journal, for example, are such cathartic activities for someone like me to do.

These are ways to tune out and only do one thing.

And because we’re such multi-taskers today, that time where we’re focused on just one thing (as one of my friends noted when we discussed it) is “sacred time.” And I love it and have come to savor it when I have it — because there are going to be times I’m watching a movie and update my status or feel inspired to blog.

I also try to disconnect every now and then; to not blog, not tweet, not update my Facebook status … but as an extrovert and someone who enjoys today’s technologies, it’s not easy for me to do. I like being “in the loop,” I like feeling connected.

To be completely honest, without social media (particularly, blogging/blogotherapy) I don’t think my recovery would have been possible. I owe a ton of my recovery to the community I helped cultivate at my blog, Tales of a (Recovering) Disordered Eater.

While in my mom’s mind it’s crazy to tell my friends on Facebook that I’m watching MILK, I see no problem in sharing something like that.

But even I have boundaries. If my husband and I are on a date, you’re not going to hear a peep from me — and that makes sense. That is time for us.

Likewise, I try not to blog much on nights where he’s not at school or studying. Our time together is limited as it is with him working and doing his MBA; the last thing I want to do is detract from that time by being attached to my laptop or Blackberry.

Ultimately, living in the moment will only get more challenging as more and more social media platforms become prevalent.

So I think it’s important for my generation, in particular, to strike a delicate balance between being connected but not too connected that life passes us by.

How about you? Do you struggle with being in the moment? Do you feel it’s more challenging to do so today than even a year or two ago? How big a role does social media play in your every day life?

This Guest post by Melissa


28 Responses to “Being “In the Moment” Amid Today’s Technology”
  1. cggirl says:


    Ok, first of all I so identify with you about being anxious – I am a really anxious person too. And I have found journaling to be cathartic but also I did reach a point where I had to stop sometimes, because it became obsessive. For me, one of the challenges is letting things go, letting an experience pass so I am free to experience the next one.

    Now, initially I thought to myself – who facebooks mid-movie? But when you explained it, I did understand it. You’re in that moment and you really want to share your feelings, which might subside or be forgotten later. (Though keep in mind it might be rude to other viewers, because mobile devices usually have a distracting light… I’m just saying πŸ™‚ )

    I also think it’s really cool how you understand so well how to create buzz and build online communities. (I could use a few tips on that!)

    As for being in the moment and multitasking – we must understand that every time we choose one thing, we give up another. When you choose to engage in facebooking while watching the movie, you are losing part of the experience of that movie, but gaining something else. As long as we’re aware of that, there’s nothing wrong with whatever choice we make.

    I also think that for someone like me, the best treatment for my anxiety is sometimes just meditating, or perhaps doing something very mindfully and focusing on that moment, on whatever I’m doing. It can also help me make more progress. When I’m animating/programming/whatever, if I focus on the task I can do a lot. When my mind starts to race too much, I start a million things and finish none.

    But, it’s a balancing act. Because if I were to focus too much on one task, I’d lose track of the big picture, and not realize that – for instance – it’s not reasonable to spend more than 3 hours on shot 2 if shots 3-5 haven’t been started and the whole spot is due tomorrow. Or I’d miss opportunities to make my project better by veering off of the plan I was initially following, and, say, using a new method to make shadows that I just discovered 5 minutes ago… Plus, I do get bored and restless working on one thing all the time, and then my creativity suffers. So, sometimes multitasking helps, sometimes it hurts.

    But those moments of peace that I find, when I meditate, or am just able to chill – they are priceless. And I forget how easy it can be to get there, if I just… Stop.

    You probably feel that when you’re running.

    Ah and one more note before I shuddup: In relation to healthy eating/exercise, being able to sit with feelings and anxiety and watch them subside, reaching peace – that can help for anyone who tends to eat as a distraction. And being in the moment when you exercise – I guess that’s up to the individual and how you feel you’re getting more out of it. I am often not in the moment when I exercise, in the sense that I might watch tv or read a book… But it helps me go longer and not stop due to boredom… Then again perhaps if I tried to be more in the moment I would reach more of that peaceful feeling, dunno.

    Anyway, cool post, I struggle with this a LOT, as you can see.

    • lissa10279 says:

      Great insight as always, cggirl! I went back to edit to explain that I was indeed watching the movie alone while my hubby studied for his midterm — so I didn’t distract anyone with my typing. πŸ™‚

      Beautifully said: “When you choose to engage in facebooking while watching the movie, you are losing part of the experience of that movie, but gaining something else. As long as we’re aware of that, there’s nothing wrong with whatever choice we make.” — Love this!!

      • cggirl says:

        Cool, good to know it wasn’t in a crowded theater πŸ™‚

        Oh also, in relation to this blog’s main themes…

        Mindful eating is pretty awesome, in that you really enjoy and appreciate what you’re eating, and are in tune with your body’s cues.

        And of course, mindfully experiencing whatever we are going through beats the hell out of obsessing about what we look like in that moment, or what we ate, or whether we exercised enough… I’m mentioning that because a lot of us who read this blog have had issues like that, duh. πŸ™‚

  2. I don’t see how posting my status on facebook is any differnet than leaning over to someone sitting next to me at the movie / concert and making a comment.

    Being “in the moment” doesn’t mean that every ounce of attention needs to be there, or that there can’t be other things going on.

  3. Cait says:

    One thing to remember is that this discussion is not new to these newfangled internet things. Before, we were talking about compulsive twitter-ers/facebook-ers/what have you, the conversation rolled around those people who were attached at the hip to their camera, and the endless slide show of family vacations photos that followed. As a young child, my mother used to be irritated with me that I “read to much” on family road trips… that with my nose buried in a book, I was missing what was right in front of me (or just outside my car window, as the case may be).

    The internet is just a change in (a) how we are distracted (b) who’s prone to that sort of distraction and (c) the (potential) audience of people who will be aware of you doing more than one thing. (Critically important on that last one then becomes the judgmentalist issue: when we open ourselves up to that sort of “open posting”– we leave ourselves vulnerable that at least some of the audience will look at our multitasked post and think “wow, that person really doesn’t know how to be in the moment”, and that factor than also becomes part of the “acceptability” of such a post. Not just “are you doing more than one thing right now” but “are you okay with letting the world see that your attention may be divided”.)

    But the nature of the “in the moment” question hasn’t changed from family-vacation-photo-guy… The answer is that, as individuals we just have to decide how many outside distractions are compatible with what we’re doing, and, as cggirl said, remember to trade off what we lose when we engage it such behavior versus what we’re gaining.

    • lissa10279 says:

      Excellent points, that this is just the newest “distraction”/attention divider. I think it just depends on the person with how engaged they want to be and in what capacity.

  4. Cait says:

    One thing I think the internet does do (and I think your post highlights this) is it makes it easier to disperse an idea quicker.

    Because you could have waited to post that MILK comment. Contextually, even to the now-now-now world of the internet, your post would have made just as much sense if you’d waited ’til the end of the movie and typed “just watched MILK…” But then you would have had to remember the idea you wanted to bring up with your facebook friends, hold on to that discussion point until the end of the movie, and not then get distracted by something else.

    So at that point… which is more “out of the moment”? Posting something online immediately, or “trying to remember it” for later? If you’re focused on some future “I can’t forget to…” that becomes just as bad as a momentary distraction of typing.

    By that logic, once you’ve had the idea at all, once you’ve been unwittingly taken out of the moment by something, you’re equally unfocused. But at that point, most of us would say… “oh, that’s natural, I think of things other than what I’m doing all the time”. So that we’re able to share them instantaneously… well, I guess I disagree with your mother and sister. If it’s an idea worth sharing, it’s not any more out of the moment to post it at the time, given that the alternative is to be thinking about some future thing you’ll do when the movie’s over.

    • lissa10279 says:

      Very good question to raise, Cait. I could have waited, and chose not to. Had I waited, I might have thought about crafting my words–this was just a raw/visceral reaction instead.

      • Cait says:

        Interesting, although I think tangentially to the original post: the question of how much we lose by not taking the time to “craft our words” versus how much we lose by “ideas that we didn’t jot down at the time and now can’t remember”.

        Not that I think that there’s any way to answer that question… it’s just interesting to think about.

  5. Kath says:

    These days I almost always live in the moment. It wasn’t always that way, but I seem to have reached a point where I’ve got it as the “default” setting.

    I think social media actually brings me back to this moment. I don’t tweet about what is happening at work in two hours, I tweet about what is happening here and now. I don’t blog about the past, I blog about the things that are in my head now. My Facebook status isn’t about something I’m going to do later (unless I’m very, very excited about it) it’s about what I am doing right now.

    Saying that people who use social media to share their lives don’t live in the moment is a bit of an “old fart’s” view of the world, you know? These kids today and their Tweetie-bird!

  6. julie says:

    Cait reminded me of an ex-boyfriend, who would stare at his gps for a whole beautiful drive, completely ignoring the scenery. Worse yet, if we were headed for a certain restaurant, he would be reading up on the restaurant, thus missing the billboard saying it was closed on that day. It got very annoying. I’ve been to shows where one of my companions texted the whole time, ignoring me, everyone else, and the music. I think many people are way too attached to these things, I’m inclined to agree with your mom.

  7. Hmmm – I could go either way on this!

    On the one hand, I love FB/Twitter because it connects us all. I have friends from college that I no longer see because they live halfway across the country, yet they can still make me laugh everyday when they post about their 2 year old peeing on the sidewalk or what not. πŸ™‚

    I think I only have a problem with it when it becomes a necessity. I have a few friends who almost go through withdrawal if they don’t “update” every couple or few hours. And it is a little upsetting when those people are continually missing out on moments with their children or spouses because of this.

    So I’m on the fence. πŸ™‚ But I will say that I love to be able to see the thoughts/funny stories/quotes that so many people have to share….it always puts a smile on my face or makes me think – and what’s so bad about that, ya know?

  8. mamaV says:

    Ok this is scary…I FINALLY had a chance to set up our WATRD facebook page, only to get on the site and see this post by Lissa! I had no idea she was writing it…..freakkkyyy!

    (So, be the first to join us…hehe. Click upper right icon on left navigation of blog πŸ™‚ )


  9. Whisper says:

    I think it’s rude if you’re out *with* someone to ignore them while you call someone else, take a long call, use your computer/PDA (except to look something up, like movie showtimes or directions), and so forth. Using a PDA during a movie is distracting to all of the people behind you, especially when a *lot* of people do it at once. Why can’t you wait until afterward, or post while you’re in line and won’t disturb anybody?

  10. lissa10279 says:

    Whisper, I was alone watching the movie in my living room. My husband was upstairs studying. I was not watching it in a theater; no one was around but me. I know there is a time and place for everything and a crowded theater is not the place. That said, my own living room is my own business …

  11. raven says:

    i think i’m just a naturally very focused person. so i don’t really have trouble staying in any particular moment if i choose to. it can be a good thing or a not so good thing, depending on the moment. my hubby, otoh, has pretty bad adhd. and he has a hard time w/doing only one thing or giving any one thing his full attention. he’s kinda taught me to be less focused and intense, and i’ve taught him how to be more in the moment and less scattered.

    as far as things like twitter or facebook… i don’t have them. i do have a blog. that’s for me to share my thoughts to a certain extent, and to keep up w/a few of my friends that are scattered around the world. they make it easy for me since they all upload twitter/facebook stuff to their blog accounts. but i’m not interested in sharing the minutiae of my life. sometimes i go months without blogging anything. sometimes i have a lot to think about/work out/share and i blog several times in a week. but i have to admit that when ppl around me start taking calls/tweeting/texting while i’m trying to spend some time w/them… i consider it annoying and rude. and i try not to take a call or text while i’m spending time w/someone else unless it looks like it’s some kind of emergency. as other ppl have said, there’s a time and a place!

  12. ozzy says:

    Interesting discussion! As someone who spends a lot of time on Skype, I tend to see Facebook as an extension of that — a way to keep in touch with people who I don’t see every day. My kid sister, on the other hand, is on Facebook all the time. She and her friends joke about what they call FOMO (fear of missing out, pronounced with the “o”s like “boat”). ‘What if I don’t check facebook and someone updated their status?’ ‘What if I don’t go out tonight and everyone talks about what happened for weeks?’ I think sites like Facebook and Twitter kind of exacerbate that FOMO — and people end up being so focused on what they might miss that they miss quite a lot.

    • lissa10279 says:

      I love that, FOMO–I have been guilty of that!

    • Cait says:

      When I was a kid, I had massive FOMO. I was a social butterfly, not because I wanted to spend time with people, but because the manifestation of my “fear of missing out” revolved around being the center of a negative gossip session. I was sure that if there was a party I wasn’t at, they were going to spend the whole time discussing how much they hated me. I was even more afraid when it was a party of people I didn’t like.

      As an adult, I regret all the time I spent at parties/events of really mean and horrible people. I think it has made me more suspicious of doing things… not wanting to bother to be around anyone at all.

  13. Whisper says:

    Lissa, I didn’t realise that from your original post! In that case, Twitter or FB away – it’s no more disruptive than getting up to use the restroom or grab a quick snack, and you can always pause the movie if you like. It’s just a pet peeve of mine when people ignore the ones they’re with to interact electronically or over the phone with others.


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  1. […] 6, 2009 My latest blog post over at WeAretheRealDeal.com. Read it here or after the jump. I had an interesting conversation with my mom and sister when I was home in N.J. […]

  2. […] Being “In the Moment” Amid Today’s Technology […]

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