The Mindfulness of Social Photo Sharing

The Mindfulness of Social Photo Sharing

Leo Babauta, the creator of Zen Habits, touched upon a deep-rooted aspect of our daily lives in this short story. As he hiked across the Sierra Nevada and came across a scene of great beauty, he found himself wanting to share what he saw. So what is this urge to share and does it add value to our life? Are we better off without it?

Yeah, we're social people living in a social (online) world. For example, I'm expecting that you'll want to comment on this article as soon as you've read it. But why do we share articles, images, our thoughts on any online platform with everyone we know (and don't know)?

This read reminded me of something my grandmother used to say as a songbird sat in the pine tree in her backyard. She would then grab my six or seven year old shoulder and point toward the tree and hoarsely go "Look, look, look..!" This utter fascination with anything that grows, walks, flies, crawls, or slivers was hugely infectious. I attribute Gram's enthusiasm to my own way of looking at the landscape and social sharing for that matter.

Babauta isn't a user of Facebook or Instagram, but he does like to share photo's with family and friends through Whatsapp or Snapchat. Even more so when he stood in awe of a scene in the Sierra Nevada mountains. But without an internet connection, Babauta realized that the urge to share was present. Instead of posting his photo, he wondered where this urge sprung from.

  • Why is this moment not enough, without the need to share?
  • Do I just want to brag, or is there a good-hearted motivation there too?
  • What am I so afraid of, that I can’t refrain from sharing?

To discover the answers to this, he learned that a phone ban can help. But one of his findings that truly resonates with me is his next find.

We're observant to a universe expanding and a world in motion. And we love to share what we see.

Of course we all want to spread awareness of our creativity; our business. We want to look awesome to attract clients and customers alike. For me, it's quite hard to let go of Facebook, 500px, Instagram or indeed, Fstoppers. Even for a week or so. Of course sharing is an outlet, maybe even a cathartic one. But then again, taking pictures is already an outlet.

After reading this, I'm intrigued by my compulsiveness to share photography. I'm going to explore this further, but let me know what you think about this after you've read Babauta's full, but short, article on the matter.



Log in or register to post comments


Anonymous's picture

To my understanding mindfulness tries to concentrate on the moment (and the experiences of the moment): Mindfulness relaxation methods often suggest to concentrate on the own breath and how it feels in the body

It occurred to me, that
1) Why would the sharing need to be immediately? I mean, it would also be possible to take a photo and show it later to family and friends (or post it in social media)
2) If I choose to go to some place alone, I made a conscious decision to be alone. Why would there at all be a feeling that everybody needs to see this at the same time? Does that mean in reality, I did not want to go alone?

I think that the idea of needing to share those experiences immediately
- distract from the experience itself
- result from a competitiveness feeling: trying to brag / demonstrate how good the own decision was. (Opposite to staying at home) or being disappointed that others did not follow

Anyhow, I agree with him that it is surely a good idea to take a step back and think about the own actions.

Simon Patterson's picture

I reckon the desire to share beautiful and wonderful things with others is a terrific, natural urge that humans have. We are social beings and this kind of sharing lends itself well to fostering those good social connections.

This inclination we have to share wonderful things with others can of course be twisted to become merely self serving. So I agree it is wise to occasionally take a step back and question one's own motives.

Brian Carpenter's picture

I share because I want to give others the opportunity to experience the same feelings/energy at the time I captured an image. Will most of the people viewing my images feel the same way I did? No. That is fine.

Its about providing opportunity to the viewer for me. I could care less about bragging or growing my following. I've purposefully separated myself from Social media to see if it was more of a self serving thing maybe feeding into some odd narcissistic tendency. Turns out, no, not really. I used to share 2 to 3 times a day. Now I share maybe twice a month. I really have no compulsion to share outside of just giving others an opportunity to see a potential unique moment that they might not have observed otherwise.

In the past, if someone mentioned absolutely loving an image I posted, I've been known to send them a massive print of it for free. I just get a kick that they enjoyed it so much and having a tangible copy of it is just so much more enjoyable to look at. The image is printed without a watermark and without a signature. Just the image. But I cannot lie, giving feels really good sometimes. That is probably the only self-serving aspect of it for me.