A memoir is not a status update – what social media addiction can teach us about learning from pain

A memoir is not a status update – what social media addiction can teach us about learning from pain

Author Dani Shapiro writes in The New Yorker that the instant rewards of social media can keep us from deep reflection . The same could be said for other distractions that reduce the potential for learning from what life throws our way. Dani writes:

It is only with distance that we are able to turn our powers of observation on ourselves, thus fashioning stories in which we are characters. There is no immediate gratification in this. No great digital crowd is “liking” what we do. We don’t experience the Pavlovian, addictive click and response of posting something that momentarily relieves the pressure inside of us.

Ms Shapiro wonders if she would have produced three memoirs, had she “come of age as a writer” in an era of social media.  Would she have felt that her story had already been told through a series of pithy Facebook posts?

We know intuitively that a status update is not the whole story.  But how easy is it to temporarily free ourselves of some of the discomforts of life – whether the result of unfortunate event, sickness or physical pain – through a little note to the world about what just happened, or a painkiller to ease the sensation?

And how much of an opportunity do we miss when we medicate or Tweet away the potential for our own learning?

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