Memories All Your Own
We live in a very connected world. Can you remember a time before email, text messaging, and social media allowed us to receive news instantaneously? When I (Stacie) was 15, I got a pen pal. We used to write each other actual letters that we would send across the country to each other. I remember being so delighted when I would open the mailbox to find her letter inside. After a few years, we transitioned to email and instant messaging. Her notes were no longer a novelty because I could send them rapidly and receive a message back in a matter of moments.
My mom descried the first time she sent an email to her uncle who lived as a missionary in a different country. She couldn’t believe that she could type something on her computer and know that he could read it just a moment later, even though they lived in different time zones and hemispheres.
Along with our ability to quickly and easily communicate, our connectivity has allowed us to share parts of our lives with so many people that we never would have before. First day of school pictures, wedding photos, vacation snapshots…all of these things are shared with the world rather than tucked into an album or shared in a slideshow with intimate family and friends.
It’s not a bad thing to be able to share our proudest, happiest, and most special moments with everyone we’re connected with. However, it does mean that we’ve lost those memories that are just our own.
When I was growing up, my mom bought a small, well-used pop-up-camper. Many weekends during the summer, we would head out with our camper and our sleeping bags and find a different campsite to set up in for a few days. We would go hiking, rent canoes, and roast s’mores over the fire. I remember simple things like the way rain on the roof of the camper sounded like bacon frying or how my hatred for being cold kept me from running unabashedly into the lake like my siblings. There are no photos of these moments. We didn’t come home and post about our experiences on social media. Sometimes when I wake up twisted like a slug in my sleeping bag at summer camp or listen to the sound of rain pinging on the roof of a treehouse, I remember those camping weekends and can’t help but smile. These memories are all my own.
What memories do you cherish? What moments are all your own, unshared and untainted by the comments of social media users? Be sure to give your kids chances to have these moments with you. Go for a weekend away and leave the phones behind. Head to the park and play a game of lava monster. Set up a tea party in the kitchen and bake scones together. Roll down the hill through the grass, chase fireflies in the night, and color giant murals with sidewalk chalk. Create memories, not to share them, but to cherish them as all your own. These are moments that are only yours and no one else’s. Our kids need time to feel free to express their truest selves, not worried about getting the best photo or how they will look on social media. They need to get away from the filters and pressures and just be. And truly, if we’re honest, as adults, we need them, too.