I’ve always been fascinated about the way information is suspended in an ether that will never expire. And I’ve always found myself drawn to the timelessness of this meta-reality. It’s only now that I’m starting to discover an appreciation for the immediate. Contrary to what I’ve been thinking all these years, information, by nature, has an expiration date. And it's not necessarily a bad thing.
I first realized this when I learned about Snapchat, an instant messaging service which only lets you view photos for seven seconds, after which they would be deleted permanently without a trace. It boggles my mind, it went against my world view. Isn’t a photo supposed to immortalize the moment, to capture it so you can travel back to it anytime? But after the initial shock I realized the wisdom of immediacy - there is an expiration date for everything. The spotlight of your consciousness illuminates the moment for seven seconds, then it’s gone forever. In many ways, it’s a reflection of life itself.
In a world where everything is record-able and archive-able, we spend parties taking photos which we think will look good on Facebook, rather than enjoying the company of friends. No one watches live TV anymore since most shows and movies can be watched on our own pace. Digital technologies have also enabled us to look back anytime to past notes, emails, and web articles. We increasingly prefer delay-able forms of communication such as text messaging, IM, and Facebook over face-to-face interactions and phone conversations. We may not realize it yet, but the more we march to the rhythm of our own clocks, the more we confine ourselves inside the shell of the past.
Hard as it may be to accept, there is a time limit, a deadline, to consuming media, watching the latest movies and sports events, studying for an exam, writing articles, making things, and enjoying the company of friends and family. This is the antithesis of procrastination and holding back. Of course, you could always revisit, revise, and catch up. But it doesn’t have the same impact. To not experience something in that optimal, real-time moment is to experience only its corpse. If you don’t relish that one snap, if you didn’t get to live that one moment, then you miss the collective passion shared in that slice of time, and you lost the chance to make your life that much richer.