In the aftermath of Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade’s passing’s and in thinking about the un-named, faceless people who have ended their lives, I’ve meditated on how to move forward and truly live, the pressure to document our lives and living in the Era of Social Media.
We live in hyper-pressurized times where everybody is watching, waiting, poking and prodding. There’s pressure to perform success, to conform, to love and be loved by a significant other and pressure to get our hands on the next-best-thing-that-will-make-us-whole. There is also pressure to document our lives, to place our lives on a stage and ask for validation, approval and intimacy from the masses. It is their response that either tears us apart or puts us back together.
There is nothing wrong with creating space to remember ourselves and our lives. I archive my life because I believe it is worthy of documentation. I believe that I am important, that I have value in the world. To record my own life is to resist the lie that I would be better off dead, that I won’t make a mark in the lives of the people who have marked me.
To record my own life is to resist the lie that I would be better off dead, that I won’t make a mark in the lives of the people who have marked me.
Documenting the way we move, live and exist in the world is an important part of affirming our own reality. For many people, to not do so is to disappear from the world – it is to not be present at all, to risk erasure and even their own destruction. So they document and they record and they track because they’re afraid of what it means to not be, to not exist in the digital age. And I, too, follow suit. Writing is my way of placing my hand-print in the wet cement we call life and history.
We collect digital memories that we hold close like treasures destined to fade away. We do what we can to hold onto these digital memories of the material world, but even these memories can be too much of a good thing. We can be convinced because there is record of life that we’ve actually lived, but this isn’t necessarily so. We can be present, but not truly present. We may have lived in the past, but are we living now? And the question that arises is how do we negotiate what it means to be present and what it means to truly live with recording and documenting our lives? How do we both live and document our living?
We may have lived in the past, but are we living now? And the question that arises is how do we negotiate what it means to be present and what it means to truly live with recording and documenting our lives? How do we both live and document our living?
It’s a hard question because it requires that we interrogate our definitions of a lived life, of success, of happiness and this takes time. To tear back the layers around ourselves and get to the core of an idea – to truly ask why it’s there and what it means – takes persistence and vulnerability and honesty. This, like many good things in life, takes work, but it is work that must be done if we truly believe that we can be transformed and, by extension, can transform the world.
Ugochuckwu Unigwe is a writer based in Atlanta, GA. You can follow him on Twitter and Instagram at @ayyebruhham.