Look at Me!
Way out beyond the middle of nowhere I started my hike. The only sound I could hear was my breathing and footsteps. In this expansive sea of desert badlands the only signs of life were the occasional pile of dried horse poop from wild mustangs. Although I did not see any, it felt like they were watching me. I was in their kingdom now and I was looking for a special shrine that watched over this scene for millions of years.
Ancient Shrine Standing Proud Through the Ages
When I found the shrine I approached it as if I was approaching an altar in church. It felt as if eyes were on my every move. The place had a sacred feel. Sacred for a very long time. Longer than humans walked on the earth.
This “shrine” was a geological masterpiece. A weathered sandstone caprock shaped like a boomerang facing into the wind. Scattered maroon colored petrified wood crumbles lay around it as if they were put there like rose petals.
I wondered about the first humans to find the shrine. My bet is that they respected and perhaps even worshipped it. Whatever humans did encounter it –they respected it for thousands of years.
Our individual behaviors are constrained by social forces and internal forces. In recent years, in a blink of eye compared to what this rock has experienced, our individual and social behaviors have dramatically changed.
My prediction is that the demise of this shrine will be soon, and it will be due to humans in this recent “Look at Me” culture. Ironically, the location of this shrine was kept secret for decades until one person offered to disclose its location on the Internet to those people who liked his Facebook page. Take a few slow deep breaths and let that sink in for a moment…
Sadly, someday soon an individual Homo sapiens socialmedial will climb up on of the fragile shrine to get a “selfie”. Instant gratification will be the force that drives them to do this. They will be rewarded by a few hours of fame and glory on social media as they collect “likes” and “shares”. Their physical action with weaken and break the fragile sandstone.
As humans we have an inherent need to belong to a group, to be recognized and appreciated by others in our tribe. To have a sense of purpose. This is in our DNA. I get it — I too feel the need to post pretty photographs and see how many people like them. It gives me a sense of accomplishment — very quickly. An instant hit of dopamine. Social media enables us to do just this. Send out a post and instantly get some recognition.
When I found the shrine I was alone, and yet there was some driving urge to share my experience with others. Kind of like when you catch a huge trout on your fly rod, ski a deep powder run down the mountain — you want to share that joy with others – right away.
In order to protect nature, we need to be careful how we share this joy on social media. A pause to reflect helps.
Our need to be accepted and get recognition is also very real.
Before posting, I now try to slow down and ask myself what my goals of the post are, and what will be impacted. A photo is worth a thousand words alone, so perhaps a few short inspirational words is best as it spreads around the Internet.
When I look at the image of this rock shrine it screams out “Look at Me!” .
Selfie — the old fashioned way…