What We Carry With Us: Choosing the moment over Instagram
The CBC Creator Network series What We Carry With Us explores how we choose to curate and revisit our memories
In What We Carry With Us, friends Amy Grace and Megan Piercey Monafu explore how we choose to curate and revisit our memories. This CBC Creator Network series reflects on different ways we capture moments of ourselves and our loved ones, and the process of learning from mementos from our past selves.
In this second episode, Megan video chats 16-year-old Keilana Mendez Munden to talk about making memories in this digital world.
Instagram has never helped me become closer with anyone. More than anything, during the pandemic I found it created a distancing effect between me and my friends. Stuck in the physical distancing of lockdowns and family bubbles, separate from the daily realities of my friends' lives, somehow seeing their pretty photos made me feel even more removed from them.
But talking with Keilana Mendez Munden, 16, made me wonder if maybe I'm just doing social media wrong.
Keilana is in Grade 11 in Hubbards, N.S., and during school lockdowns she used Instagram's video chat function to become closer with a friend. Each evening, someone in their friend group would initiate a video call, and many evenings were spent chatting late into the night. A friend who had been too shy to open up in person was able to become closer to the group thanks to this method of communication. Keilana says this ritual also helped the whole group navigate school closures.
"Instagram FaceTime definitely helped us a lot to stay sane, really," she says.
In addition to using social media personally, Keilana is a professional model who uses Instagram to present her professional portfolio.
As someone who came of age at the same time as early social media platforms, my 32-year-old millennial mindset could use the shift in perspective provided by Keilana. She has an intuitive knowledge of internet culture, and wisdom to use the platforms for what they're good for, without getting too caught up in presenting unrealistic images of a perfect life. The esthetic of only posting beautiful and happy photos — and the professional drive of millennials to be present on every platform — doesn't seem to be of concern to her.
Rather than recording every memory for online distribution, Keilana and her friends primarily use Snapchat to communicate, allowing their photos and messages to expire after they've been received. When they get together in person, they make a point of putting their phones down to have a real conversation.
The nature of the social media platforms that the younger generation tend to use, as well as the experience of understanding social media from a young age, seem to have led these high school students to a healthy relationship with their online presence. As someone still struggling to find this balance, I'm taking notes.
This online mindfulness leads Keilana to value each in-person moment. She knows that the most treasured memories she will carry with her aren't the ones on her Instagram wall.
"I hope I remember car rides with my dad, and spending time with my friends," she says. "I hope I remember watching movies with my mom, just things that I do every day.... I just hope that those will always be the most memorable things that I've done."
I'm wary of opinions that different generations are hugely divided, that assume that younger people and older people don't value the same things. While the methods of recording our lives may have changed, Keilana is no less concerned with the present and what is truly valuable.
Megan Piercey Monafu is a writer, director and theatre producer from Halifax, now based in Ottawa.
More from this series: