Last summer, while avoiding all my responsibilities, I went to a concert with my best friend. We saw Anderson East, in the beautiful city of Chattanooga, TN. It was sultry and soulful. The atmosphere was amazing. However, the majority of the crowd was not looking the artist in the eye. They’re weren’t feeling the music run through their bones. More, they were watching him through their smart phone screen.
Y’all, we need to put our phones down!
Now I am as attached to my phone as the next 20-something. I crave constant connection and sleep soundly knowing those I love are never more than a message away (message because phone calls and my anxiety are in absolutely no way friends). It’s something I’ve noticed more and more recently, the attachment. It’s not the phone for me that’s the problem. It’s the constant obsession living in another time.
The addiction to videoing, photographing and live streaming is a straight up shun of the present moment.
I spent years photographing every thing I did. Videoing every gig. Taking a photo of everything I ate. You know what I remember of those moments? Very little. I was so obsessed with taking the best photo, finding the best lighting or holding the best smile that I really missed out on the actual moment. I didn’t realize that by focusing on that tiny screen I wasn’t focusing on me, my friends and each glorious moment I was hellbent on capturing forever. The truth is photographs are beautiful little snapshots of our lives. But of the thousands of photos on your phone, how many have you printed out to hang in your house? How many do you actually look at?
Some days it seems that I traveled the world for photographs to share on social media.
I still have them. Some are breath-taking. Some mediocre and some downright embarrassing. But what I don’t have are the smells, so strong and exotic that they’ll blow your mind. The colours, so bright they could keep you awake at night. The sounds, dampened by the search for the perfect photo. I have thousands and thousands of photos of my travels across the world. My favourite? The ones of the moments I wasn’t focusing on capturing and just took it all in.
The breathtaking sunsets in Fiji, the long walks in the countryside, the cocktail hour that turned into cocktail weekend with new (and now lifelong) friends. The times I have put my phone down truly are my favourite. If my emotional journey has taught me anything it’s that the present is all we really have. Losing my mum has concreted that you are never, ever promised a tomorrow.
Now I ask myself, why record videos no-one will ever watch? Why take photos no-one will ever see? We’re missing the present. The sights, the smells, the smiles and the serendipity of each moment that stumbles across our story.
Occasionally I find myself disappointed that I didn’t photograph an event I experienced. Almost guilty that I didn’t capture that moment. Like, we can no longer tell stories without visual proof that it happened! Then, last night as I peed my pants listening to a friends hilarious story of her vacation with her parents, I realized photographic evidence has now outweighed story telling. Would her photo induced laugh out loud chuckles? Absolutely not.
It’s the generation. I will still take a photo or 2. It nice to have a moment of time captured. A luxury previous generations did not experience. But please, for all that is holy, look your friends in the eye. Feel the spray of the waterfall. See, really see the colours of the sunset and the feel your feelings. Take all these moments in and share them with those you love through your story telling not photos!
Tomorrow is not promised. So feel, truly, deeply and spectacularly feel who you are right now! Be present for those you love.
Two photos I did take of that trip that fill me with joy! The majority of the time was spent phone free!