One of the nice things about writing is getting to choose a point of view. You can take the classic third person, its outcast cousin second person, or dive right in with first person. As a writer you look at the story and the characters from the outside—building their lives and their voices as you would like them to be.
These days, it seems that we are all writers.
I don’t mean that in the sense that writing is the craft of the majority, I simply mean that in the twenty first century, we seem to spend most of our time building our lives from the outside.
We carefully curate our Facebook pages, Instagram feeds, and Twitter hashtags as though we are on exhibit.
And in a way, we’re not wrong. Social media provides us all with the means to present ourselves however we wish to seem. In theory, it’s not such a bad premise.
In practice, however, we’ve become obsessed. The problem with putting yourself on the outside to carefully construct these pages and posts is that we take ourselves out of the equation. We spend less time enjoying the concert, and more time trying to capture a perfect shot of the lead singer on our iPhones (and consequently, irritating everyone trying to watch the show behind us). We stand on the dock, on the mountain, on the 48th floor, and all we do is fumble with our phones trying to get the best panorama shot.
And no matter where we go, it feels like we are always in at least seven places at once. We are divided between the friends we are texting, the internet lives we are tending to, and the people and experiences actually in front of us. But in the end, we can put aside where we are in order to check in and make sure all is well with our virtual realities.
But then the question starts to become who are we actually?
Would we all behave the same way if no one was watching? Where would we go, what music would we listen to, who would we connect with? How different would our lives be if we were only living it in one place at a time, if we were the only ones watching?
Maybe we need to rediscover what it means to live in the first person.