Snapping out of 2013
I made it into 2013 only to watch four-fifths of it through somebody else’s LCD screen.
Yes yes, I’m just as guilty as you are. I took perfectly re-configured, #filtered photos of my friends holding homemade Mojitos and beamed them into cyberspace on December 31, filmed post-party casualties as they rolled down my street on the afternoon of the first day of the new year and wrote updates to tell everyone how funny it was that we were all writing updates on an evening when we should really be enjoying the company of others. Do not think that I don’t hate myself for this.
Nevertheless, it’s coming to the point now where many of us don’t really know how to do anything else. I have a few school friends who still don’t have Instagram and I envy them for their ability to walk past a living LOL and not have the urge to document it. You wouldn’t think it was possible judging by the crowd in attendance at Sydney music festival Field Day, between the girls wearing tank tops with their social media handles (‘@stacey_babe_UK’) scrawled on them and the punters spending the entire duration of acts they’d never even seen before in deadly concentration as they positioned their iPhones to film the entire goddamn set. I can’t imagine what they’re going to tell their kids: “Oh yes dear, I saw Mark Ronson in his prime. No I don’t remember much except for some dickhead getting in the way of my camera. I sincerely hope he’s dead.”
In spending most of our time documenting the present, we often forget how we used to interface with the real world in the past. My favourite game to play with my grandparents, who are thankfully both entirely ‘with it’ despite being in their mid-eighties, is ‘Do You Remember A Time Before….’ That question can extend to computers, colour television, Internet, digital cameras, unmanned petrol pumps and female prime ministers, but mostly it’s used in reference to mobile phones. My oldies have lived through the Cold War, Vietnam and The Monkees, but they’ve never seen anything quite as pervasive or behaviour modifying as the little slabs we carry in our pockets. They’re very worried and they’re probably right.
What are we going to have to show for it, really? When we succumb to old age or cancer or some other debilitating disease in our twilight years, are the three and a half minute, grainy videos of SBTRKT (who will have hopefully found vowels by 2050) going to keep us warm at night? Are our social media portfolios – because that’s what they’re becoming really – which may or may not even survive the next decade going to give us happy memories? Or are we abandoning the chance to have those memories by getting them down before they have the opportunity to simmer in the backburners of our minds? One idealises that memory is finite, and allocated only to those things that the brain deems important. By telling the brain not to worry about it, because Facebook has that shit covered, it’s possible that we’re doing our own grey matter a big disservice.
I’ve said before that I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions, but after getting into an argument with a guy who decided that rather than dancing to Disclosure like everyone else he’d prefer to spend twenty minutes trying to get the ultimate profile pic with his new British backpacker snog interest, I had a change of tune. This year, I’m going to try and see things with my eyes rather than through third-party software. I might have to have a chuckle to myself rather than sharing something with a crowd-sourced group of mates who find the same things funny. Being alone with our thoughts isn’t as easy as it once was, and the same applies with vision. So let’s put those cameras away for a minute. See the moment for yourself, not with the world. Rest assured someone else will still be snapping away at exactly the same thing anyway.
Lead image via Shutterstock