When Documenting Life Becomes More Important than Living It.

2:37 PM

This article has been circling the web over the past few weeks, and I can't stop thinking about it! I thought I'd share my thoughts regarding smart phones/cameras/every day documentation in relation to life and the art of scrapbooking.

To sum up the article: A restaurant noticed that the speed of its service dramatically decreased over the last 10 years, while the customer complaints increased. They were still serving about the same amount of customers and were baffled as to why this was happening, so they hired an outside firm to get to the root of the problem. This firm watched surveillance tapes of the restaurant and interviewed staff. You can read the specific findings in the article, but basically service had slowed down because customers originally got right to reading the menu, ordering, and eating. Today, on average they didn't even look at the menu upon arrival, or order until 21 minutes after they had been seated. Instead, they were using their cellphones. The service speed decreased because waiters were being asked to take photos of the diners, or for help with the wifi. During the meal, customers would spend time taking pictures of their food. On average, customers were spending 50 more minutes at the meal than in years past. 

I felt so incredibly convicted by these findings! I've been scrapbooking since I was 17, and since I was 17, I have tried to document EVERYTHING with pictures. It's a habit because a) I enjoy it, b) I want to remember things, and c) and I want to have things to scrapbook! My desire to document life has only increased with the invention of the smart phone and the popularity of Project Life.

But you know what? My desire to "document" gets in the way of me enjoying my experiences. I can name so many events that I didn't fully enjoy and wasn't entirely present at because I was viewing it through the lens of a camera. I can think of several dates with Michael where I wanted someone to take a picture of us and I spent more time stressing about finding an approachable person than enjoying the experience. I can think of many occasions where I missed great conversations because I was focusing on capturing the moment. I recall so much time spent setting up the "perfect photo". I see so many photos on instagram and facebook that convey that I'm not the only one struggling with this.

Does this always happen? No. I've been making a conscious effort in the past year to PUT THE PHONE AWAY. Of course I will snap a quick selfie with Michael, but after that, the phone can go in my purse. I don't want to be the person that misses out on life. I don't want to be self obsessed to the point that my needing a picture of my experiences affects other people.

Does that mean I think I should stop taking pictures? Absolutely not! I still am going to take a million pictures of my dog. I'm still going to take a picture of our dates, our lives, my experiences. But does EVERY experience need to be documented? No. Does every experience need to be posted publicly? No.

So here I stand (or sit, should I say), declaring my intentions to live in the present. I don't want to be like the people in that article. I want to enjoy the conversation of my meal, and not the photography aspects. I want to savor every moment of every experience and not worry about getting the perfect Instagram. I want to focus on my husband and not whether or not someone can take a picture of us. I want to savor life. Will you join me?

I know that I take a million!

You Might Also Like


  1. Wonderful post!! I think it's something a lot of us struggle with but no one really talks about it? I am trying to be better about living in the present and not needing to document every little moment. On the other hand though, it's nice to have everyday moments captured instead of just the big ones. I guess it's a fine line to tread.

  2. Thoughtful, candid article! In pre-technology times it is called, "putting the cart before the horse'. I think the obsession with documenting though naturally follows from being passionate about scrapbooking and passion about anything in life is the opposite of a problem in my book!



Like us on Facebook