Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Please Turn Off Your Recording Devices


Capturing life through the lens of a camera cell phone is pretty common these days. All evidence of human lives being lived can be dialed up on YouTube or Live Leak (or a million other video sources) on a whim. While I enjoy the convenience, I wonder: what are real memories worth anymore?

What started me thinking about this was a quote in issue 1047 of Rolling Stone. In it, Billie Joe Armstrong (of Green Day) asked his audience to please put away their camera phones during a performance. He said, “YouTube can’t own everything. There’s also something called memories.” He noticed people in the audience watching the band play on their cell phones, recording every morsel of activity, and forgetting to look up and live in the moment instead of the eventual download.

There is always room for cell phone cameras. Also, there is big money in being on the scene for natural disasters and stupid human tricks. In our diligence to be ready, I often feel like people forget to imprint the moment in their brain. They forget to attach emotions with what they have seen. In our haste to record, we live post-event, post-emotion. We suffer from post-life disorder.

While we have made every road to preserving our memories, we have traded our emotional memories by forgetting to simply look up and open our eyes wide. It is understandable – so many of us live our lives through lenses and computer screens. Sometimes, and because we are careful to pay attention to a recorded image, digital reality is more accessible than our own memories.

Our memories are corrupted by emotions and distractions. That is why we allow the recorded image reverence and awe, as it is a perfect record of exactly what happened as it occurred and it can be parsed frame by frame. We can then take what we have seen, pick it apart and quite accurately remove any individual opinion while sharing the video with others. In the process, I feel like some folks have become robotic. They can see something, tape it, and tell you about it later but what is lost is personality and the beautiful ways our memories are vastly unique.

Facts are always important. Don’t get me wrong. It’s the interpretation of facts based on personal experience that I miss on YouTube. Life should be spontaneous. Personal memories can’t be edited, but they can enhance reality. What a wonderful world it might be if we made an effort to edit our life less and talk about it more. If we looked away and put away the electronic devices, if we forget that life is not a deposition, maybe we might enjoy it instead of reviewing it. There are so many things you miss when you’re not in person, no matter how many cameras angles are involved. If you can help it, don’t miss the human experience in real time.

Imprint something on your brain today. Whatever you see, retain it. Remind yourself to keep it and remember that what you have just seen is from the most rare vantage point in the universe because it is your own. There is no one else who can see what you see.

Allen Ginsberg - Howl (Part 1)


This is where memories can take you. Do you want the rest? Find it.

1 comment:

Minnie-sota said...

I liked this post, even though confessing that I just upgraded to a camera cell phone. I agree that sometimes is is best to just be present in the moment rather being distracted by capturing it.