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Has Social Media Driven Us To Document Too Much?

Mark Kens from Oklahoma, USA, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Influencer culture seems to infect and tinge everything — from new restaurants, red carpets, and films to even our favourite coffee shop.

We can also see its habits and ways creeping into our own lives.

With each of us spending hours on TikTok, Instagram, or any other social media every week, it’s no wonder we have begun to adopt these sentiments into our own day-to-day lives.

We find ourselves using viral phrases and slang (10 points for anyone who has never accidentally said ‘slay’ to mean anything other than its original meaning) or trying odd TikTok challenges — like asking the men in our lives how often they think about the Roman Empire.

But the worst offender is our use of cameras.

Cameras and captured memories are not a new concept. Most, if not all, of us have parents with photo albums full of our childhood, and possibly even theirs.

Daily vlogs have been regular viewing for many years, and home videos are a staple at any family reunion.

However, as a slice of everyone’s life feels instantly accessible to anyone with a smartphone, it seems we have begun to film everything.

Daily vlogs are as habitual as morning coffee, and every pretty sight, dinner out, and even thought seems documentable.

While the days of Facebook status updates may seem bad, the rise of TikTok and Instagram has led us down a far worse path. It’s not just our thoughts we want to share with everyone, but also our morning routines, latest books, and the sight of our kitchens after a lazy weekend.

We film and snap anything, creating endless documented memories and snippets of our lives — a digital scrapbook, as some people like to call their Instagram feed.

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And while this may seem a bit much when we see someone obsessively film their matcha at our local coffee shop, or a street-side ‘fit check,’ this constant documentation seems to be the logical step from digital cameras and camcorders.

And capturing the everyday — the sunsets and Sunday mornings — can be quietly beneficial for some. It can inform and educate others as we, one of the most politically aware generations, discuss and document our opinions and thoughts. It can distil the little moments we otherwise would have forgotten and create communities that would have never formed otherwise.

Beyond the snapshots of memories we are constantly creating, our filming and sharing of the everyday is validating and comforting to many.

As Lara Gstrein, a growing TikTok influencer and self-proclaimed romanticiser of life, points out, “I think it‘s a fun way to document life. Also I like it to influence my followers about positivity and show them my lifestyle.”

But she can also see the issue with balancing the need to document and share our lives with a typical lifestyle. ‘But it‘s pretty hard doing this while working on a 9 to 5 job,’ she says.

With the advent of Instagram, we found ourselves in a curated and filtered world — one plagued with fake bodies, lives, and people, which ultimately created a spiral of comparison for everyone else.

We Facetuned our photos, shamelessly shared photo after photo of our holidays, and hid any part of our life that wasn’t aesthetic. And now, as we film our cleaning routines, downtime, and ‘5-9s before our 9-5s, we are finally seeing everyone’s lives for what they are.

But mental health expert Jaafar Omer Ahmed suggests this isn’t the case. ‘When we look at posts and articles on social media, we see successes, love, achievements, caring… but we do not have the chance to see failures, anxiety, problems.... we are sharing only accepted personality traits and characters…’

‘We record good and erase bad. Our accounts produce a fake identity, and this phenomenon makes our lives confused with reality! It is better to record our real life on social media, but unfortunately, it is impossible!’

We see the sadness and mundanity, the stresses and the boring commutes. We observe that everyone has crumbs on their kitchen counter, very few people wake up with perfect hair, and we all get the ‘Sunday scaries.’

But is there a line between reality and over-sharing? Can we ‘trauma-dump’ on strangers who watch our videos? Are we too busy filming to make actual memories, and where do we draw the line?


The recent conviction of Ruby Franke, a family vlogger who filmed her children having meltdowns and tantrums, and caught flack for her dangerous and emotionally abusive parenting strategies, suggests that not everyone is right to share their life online.

A series of skits by the TikTok Influencer Caroline Easom dives into the realities of family vlogging, with lies about medical issues, and in some cases, forces unwilling children to ‘perform’ for the camera.

While many of us don’t face this issue around posting our families or children online for millions to see, it’s a clear indication that not everything needs to be captured.

Revealing the realities of parenthood, which can be messy, exhausting, challenging and, let’s face it, disgusting, does not include filing tantrums, over-sharing graphic or embarrassing stories, and letting a camera rule your life. There’s a boundary there that many need to recognise is not healthy to cross.

Beyond the reality of our lives, we can often find ourselves capturing and filming strangers or those who don’t want to be on camera. The popularity of TikTok and its supposed authenticity has normalised the filming of others in private places.

This notion of documenting and sharing everything has led us to reveal and publish information of moments others wouldn’t want shared.

While there are no laws around the use of a camera in public places or the images we can share online from those public places, it doesn’t mean that sharing a stranger crying on a park bench or filming vulnerable moments between friends is morally right.

The desire to film and capture everything can ruin these special moments and strip away their authenticity, reducing them to shared memories or a performance, as a camera changes how we act and present ourselves.

Capturing spontaneous or special moments, while creating a nice memory and keepsake, takes us from being fully present in the moment, making it less special and meaningful.

Maybe we do film too much, or maybe this is just the state the world will adapt to.

But either way, we need to remember to be present in our lives, to enjoy the little things not because we’ve romanticised them with a TikTok sound and filters, but for the simplicity of the moment.


Not everything we do or say needs to be filmed, nor does it need to be shared. We should create personal boundaries around this and know when to turn the camera off.

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