pt 1: fleeting smiles

It’s unseasonably warm in the Yard today – nearing 70°F, despite it being mid-October. Time spent sitting in a primary-colored chair with gentle sunshine pouring through the branches of decades-old trees is never time poorly spent. We become one of the few still ones. The world spins around. Groups of international tourists make their way from Johnston Gate to John Harvard to then meander their way to Widener Library, cameras in hand. Families of prospective students gawk at the brick structures. Busy businessmen stride across the path, briefcase in hand, Bluetooth plugged in. Young children tag each other while scampering between the colorful chairs, parents watching warily from afar.

A girl passes by, phone in hand. She appears serious, staring intently at the screen. Then, the phone shoots up, her face lights up with her mouth open wide, smiling. With the happiest snapshot snapped for her Snapchat, she sends it to her friends, satisfied.

We wonder, what are the implications of this? They say forcing ourselves to smile – even artificially, can boost our mood. This seems innocent enough, but like the thousands of essays, articles, books, and other assorted commentary on the harms/benefits/meaning of social media, there seems to be larger ripple effects on us as individuals and on society at large. But what are they and how do we quantify them? Or even just accurately verbalize it?

The most sensible explanation I can arrive at is that it comes down to balance. Balance between a partial construction of your fantasy life and an accurate representation of your reality. The distinction between deception and merely sharing. And the way we allow content to affect us. Being in tune with all these emotions and thoughts and goings-on is of the utmost importance.

 

Let us remember: in the end, everything comes back to balance, awareness, and positivity.

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