When lives were mysteries. Does openness mean boringness?

October 23rd, 2013

Reddit user korrtuul comments on life in 1990′s without mobile phones:

Actually, I didn’t mind the lack of cellphones so much. It’s not like we had anything to compare it to mind you, it just was the way it was. Coming home to get messages wasn’t all that bad, kind of like snail mail for the phone. Nobody expecting you to answer the moment they called, just hoping to catch you. Everyone was a mystery, secret lives and adventures for all I knew.

I remember this phenomena. When you called someone and they weren’t home, you imagined that they were off at a cool party, or off rock-climbing, or having a great lunch with friends. In today’s connected world, you’re likely to get a text back that they’re in line at the bank.

This fits with a broader trend I’ve observed, that with increased openness and sharing, we learn more about how truly boring most lives are!

I’ve written before about how people sugar-coat their online lives to highlight the good parts, but most everyone today –and especially youth– understand that this is all for show.

I wrote a program that takes my picture in front of the computer every half hour. (LifeSlice, download here.) After more than a year of use, I can assure you that 95% of my life is totally boring. Even to me, and I’m the star! Don’t believe me, take a look at this little bit of August this year.

On the one hand, it’s psychologically reassuring to find out that other’s lives aren’t that different from my own. On the other hand, I do secretly hope that friends of mine are leading mysterious lives: writing novels they’ve told no one about, clandestine romances, fighting criminal masterminds at night, or leaving their cellphone at home while they walk in the woods.

 

(Photo via Flickr user: tom stovall)