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Facebook Likes, Bathyspheres, & Borrowed Bucket Lists by Mark Hatmaker

Several studies have shown overall decreased participation in team sports, civic activities, club memberships, and other like participatory activities. [Keep in mind these are overall trends/numbers, not everyone is opting out—raw numbers in bulk are doing less, we must not mistake the images of doers as the mean.]

Some studies are also showing that [aside from the depressive effect of increasing screen times] we are seeing the lessening of cognitive load/ambition via “vicarious experience.” That is to say, some self-report that watching videos or reading posts of people doing certain activities gives them a similar experience to doing the activity.

You read that correctly. Viewing is the same as doing.

That statement is absurd on its face. Watching porn is not making love and viewing MMA is not getting punched in the face, etc. The man atop the mountain is in no shape, form or fashion US. That experience belongs to the man who climbed the mountain and he alone.


The cognitive load/tension within becomes lighter when one “Likes” or “Shares” such videos or posts. It is assumed the mechanism of adding this wee bit of physical action [the click or swipe] lightens our “willpower/ambition” burden and gives a brief illusory burst that one is somehow in some minuscule way a part of the “Liked” or “Shared” activity.

Again, absurd. “Liking” porn is not even one step closer to a light kiss on the cheek, and “Sharing” a fight video is not one step closer to the gym or mat. Sharing a “funny” video does not mean that you have a funny bone in your body.

Only present doings are actual accomplishments. Liking and Sharing is a polite act of encouragement to others—a kindness. I’m not opposed to this at all.

 Any assumption of association with the accomplishments or doings of others is a delusion.

Let’s allow the below observations from a legendary doer and his explorer compadre to drive the point home.

[From the National Geographic article “To the Depths of the Sea by Bathysphere” by Jacques Cousteau dated July 1954. It tells of Cousteau and team plunging to an unprecedented 4,000 feet beneath the Mediterranean Ocean. In the below extract, an observer asks why they didn’t just allow the automatic camera aboard the experimental craft to do the work, why risk his own life?]

Skeptical, one observer on board asked me if I really expected to see anything that 10,000 photographs failed to record.

“Of course!” I said, “A direct look is something else again.”

“After all,” added my friend Dumas, “the eye is closer to the brain than the lens. The eye knows how to select.”

Two phrases to keep in mind: A direct look is something else again.

And: The eye is closer to the brain than the lens.

Might I amend that to The eye is closer to the brain than the screen.

I offer these observations in the hopes that we all [self-included] use the “Likings” “Sharings” & “Doings” of others as inspiration to our own doings and not let ourselves off of the cognitive-accomplishment hook where we wind up with the only muscle exercised is the right-clicking finger and the only thing completed on our bucket list is giving a big thumbs up to someone else’s bucket list.


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