Is social media bad for NYC?

Could our compulsive documentation of our lives detract from the experience of really living here?

New Yorkers have an ingrained need to be early trend-spotters and loud flag-wavers, whether we're extolling bacon as a dessert ingredient or proclaiming the surprising style and comfort of skinny jeans. It's this collective personality trait that has made us social-media obsessives. Not only do we want to be more culturally advanced than anyone, anywhere, we want everyone else to know it. And we can now broadcast this like never before. On any given weekend, we're checking in on Foursquare multiple times a night, letting one another know where we are and evaluating each scene. We post incessant status updates on Facebook about the beer we found in our corner bodega and our position in a concert crowd.

This fixation with personal broadcasting has had an unintended consequence: We're shifting the focus away from the city's culture and arts scene, and onto ourselves. We've become the stars of our own digital shows, in which keeping track of our hyperbolic NYC lives has become the hyperbole itself. This is changing the way that we consume our city—we're increasingly taking it in secondhand or filtering it through our own editorial lens, watching the most exciting part of a live show via a three-inch screen, distracting ourselves from an exquisite dessert because we're framing it for a Facebook post, or boiling down the best moments of our night to 140 characters. We, who pride ourselves on leading the creative charge, are becoming tourists in our own lives, in our own city.

NEXT: Status update: We're obsessed

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