Our futuristic world is full of quantitative digital tangibles: number counts of Instagram likes, Facebook friends, retweets, bank account statements, event attendees, and so on. We can accurately assess many details about anything by the records left online. However, standing out against the grain in what we measurably experience through our tiny pocket screens is the world of the qualitative, the physical, and the intangible. Standing out against the grain are vibes.
There were some seriously bad vibes in my apartment earlier this week. I invited a group of my friends over to watch the 2015 NBA finals, and the team I ride or die for, lost to stupid Lebron James and the dimbo-dumbo-Dellavedova Cleveland Cavaliers. I was emitting horrible, downer vibes. My friends could feel the frustration, anger, disappointment, and embarrassment radiating off of my very being and were made noticeably uncomfortable. Is this shared emotional experience any less real than the view count on this video of Dragon Lebron James burning the Golden State Warriors to death?
Defined as “a person’s emotional state or the atmosphere of a place as communicated to and felt by others,” vibes are perhaps more relevant now than in their heyday in the lexicon of the late ’60s and early ’70s. This is because of the very dichotomy they separate themselves from our digital lives with. You can’t photograph or “like” a vibe, you have to experience it. Many people go on a given adventure searching for that perfect moment to Instagram or tweet about, to share with their entire network. Still, some are merely there for the actual experience itself, and the fulfillment of sharing it with those in their actual physical proximity.
Perhaps case in point on the quest for vibes, good vibes to be specific, is the modern day music festival. While selfie stick bearers and colorful flowerband-adorned heads wander fields, deserts, and parking lots alike in search of a picture-perfect moment to share online, there is also an actual experience to be had. Friendly strangers sharing drinks, snacks and glow sticks, crowds dancing and moving as one, and a general positive attitude as everyone knows they’ve come together to have fun. The ultimate embodiment of a good time and a good vibe.
Vibes can go much further than a simple good or bad however. Wandering a dried lakebed at the Lightning in a Bottle festival in my dad’s pastel purple Land’s End jacket I was giving off strong dad vibes. Touring San Francisco’s “The Armory,” the world capital of BDSM elicits kinky vibes. Dozens of of bros adorned in Hawaiian shirts grooving to Thomas Jack’s light house melodies reminiscent of the Caribbean brew up potent tropical vibes. Discovering a large, vacant and fully furnished tent hidden at the back of the festival for you and your friends to post up in begets tipi vibes.
People enjoy the escape into our easily quantified digital world so much that they will waste precious and intriguing moments in the physical universe staring at their phones. The problem is that getting five extra likes because you managed to fit your half finished plastic pint of beer into the frame with the Coachella ferris wheel won’t be something you tell your grandkids about. Meet some strangers (new friend vibes), dip that circular wand into that soapy solution (bubble vibes), and howl out to the moon (wolf vibes) when you’re out in the world, because when it comes down to it, life is about the real stuff. Life is about vibes.