Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Wednesday Wisdom: The Selfie Stick vs. The Roman Coliseum, Part Two

Part Two

"I know that the purpose of life is to understand and be in the present moment with the people you love. It's just that simple." Jane Seymour

Last week I wrote about having our views of the Roman Coliseum obstructed by tourists wielding selfie sticks and cameras. I lamented that the hoopla in recording an event can eclipse the event itself and disrupt the deeper meaning of the moment.
Unfortunately, this phenomenon isn't limited to famous locations in faraway places; it has a bloated, oversized cousin right here in America.
If you've attended any end-of-school-year function lately, like a play, concert, sporting event, awards ceremony, recital, or "graduation," you know what I'm talking about: the mobs of parents and grandparents armed with video cameras, iPads, and smartphones capturing their precious darling's "magic moment" for social media.
Apparently it no longer "counts" for a child to perform in a concert, receive an award, play in a game, or "graduate" unless the event is recorded and posted on the internet for all the world to see. The result of this urgent need for video and photographs is swarms of pushy adults hell-bent on staking out the best vantage spot for their cameras, with little concern for obstructing the view or interrupting the enjoyment of the rest of the audience.
[I use the term "graduation" in quotes because I find it bizarre that every step of little Johnny's or Tiffany's educational progression, from preschool to kindergarten to elementary school to middle school, must now include a "graduation" ceremony complete with obligatory cap and gown, diploma, and the whole "Pomp-and-Circumstance" nine   yards that used to be reserved for high school and college. Spare me! A four-year-old doesn't need to be feted because he or she made it through preschool and now gets to go to kindergarten. But I digress.]
A thoughtful and well-intentioned mother recently confided in me that, somewhere in the middle of filming her middle-school-age son's THIRD end-of-year band concert, she asked herself why she couldn't just sit down, stop recording, and actually listen to the performance. Why couldn't she allow herself to turn off the camera and relish this remarkable occasion of her son and his friends making beautiful music together? Why, indeed?
This modern malady manifests itself in other settings as well. Another example is the current generation of marriage proposals, judging from what I see online.
To me, a proposal should be a sweet and affectionate (and genuine) conversation between two people in love to determine whether to spend their lives together. Done right, it could be one of the couple's most cherished personal memories. But sadly, in front of cameras, it becomes instead a façade of the real event, a staged and extravagant charade, another salvo in the social media arms race.
Once again, the event itself is overshadowed and distorted by the documentation of the event. The deeper meaning of the moment is lost. Forever.

Folks, turn off the cameras and step away. We are robbing ourselves of the ability to celebrate the present, to enjoy the here and now. We are forgetting what it feels like to feel. We are missing the wonder and magic and happiness of simply being there with the people we love the most. That's a high price to pay for 15 minutes of internet fame.

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