The Observer Effect

Last night I was rewatching an 80s classic “The princess bride” at an open-air cinema in good company, the sky full of stars over my head and wine. I happened to notice two girls in front of me that were taking photos of themselves watching a movie. Nothing out of the ordinary I thought to myself just capturing moments of fun. But then they stood up and left 20 minutes into the movie. Did the movie suck? Was it the mozzies? I will never find out. I was wondering how would it look on their Instagram feed for someone else and how much was I embellishing my own life in my posting.

Negatively charged tiny electron particles behave differently when they have been observed. We, humans, took it up the notch with social media. Instagram for instance created a whole new travelling trend when people visit locations of most posted photos. We go to places in need and anticipation of being observed.

An alien civilisation watching us from outside (get your tinfoil hats ready) would be scratching their heads trying to understand our migratory patterns in the last 5 years.  Before media and ads, we used to move in search of food or grass to raise cattle. Another fun fact is that in the process we created a whole bunch of observers that represent a disproportionately larger group that the electrons themselves.

I contributed my share of megabytes to the digital footprint. In the beginning, it made me feel that I belong but it was different from joining a social group. It felt more like talking to a void with an occasional echo bouncing back in a form of a like or a comment. When I got into coaching I felt enormous pressure to be “present” online. The gurus were instructed to post daily, not be afraid of the camera and be ourselves. Talking to a box made of glass and metal was easy to get my head around. But the “myself” part was a different game. 

To inspire people, and encourage them to do things differently a persona had to be worn at all times. We do this on a regular basis – John that goes to the office isn’t the same John that loses his patience with a TV remote at home or having a few drinks with mates while watching a footie. This however seemed like a whole different challenge with impossible to know who would be watching the content. Being constantly positive, spiritual, and healthy to ad noseeum was only showing only one of many sides of the coin. It felt unauthentic and tiring.

I abandoned the whole idea in favour of just using my posts as memory anchors in a photobook of life. To capture events, trips and moments that would bring the feelings and emotions back. Changing the paradigm did not return my electrons to a completely unobservable state but may be obstructed the onlooker’s vision with a pair of dark glasses. 

So what did we learn that evening? Post like there is nobody watching, don’t trust the happy life you see on social media and read reviews before wasting your money on movie tickets. Also, spend time in a company you genuinely enjoy. Because even if the movie sucks you still going to have a great time.

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