Monday, April 07, 2008

The Digital Dilution of Experience (or 'How I Replaced My Brain With A Camera')

I'm proud to say I never liked New Kids On The Block, even as a ten year old, so the recent announcement of their reunion was only met with morbid curiosity. I watched a video of the big announcement on the Today show only to see the women aged 30+, faced with this exciting reunion, decide to view it all through their cameras, rather than bask in the faded glow of Jordan, Donny, Jon, Joey, and the ember that is/was Danny Wood.

The moment the Old Kids were unveiled...

Their fans chose to observe digital recreations of them.

It only highlighted what I've recently been catching myself doing which is to pass up complete surrender to a once in a lifetime moment, to instead capture it on a camera. It's a sad state of affairs, especially when you see people opting to spend their favourite song at a concert with their arm held up, as still as possible in order to capture some crappy video with wretched sound quality, rather than rocking or bopping out as the song intended they do. I do remember a time when not everyone fancied themselves an amateur photographer and was not toting low grade photographic equipment in their pockets or handbags. People simply soaked up what was on offer with their actual senses, as opposed to a digital recreation of them.

Occasionally you'll get a decent picture like this...

But more often, they are worthless, like this.

(If you think you have something to tell me about the Foo Fighters stinking, I already know)

And good luck to you if you can even tell who this is.

Of course I still like to capture things with my camera, but I'm trying to break free of this twisted logic of putting capturing and remembering over the actual experience itself. It's a very hard habit to break. I know as I stood poised to see Gene Wilder enter the book signing I was at a few weeks ago, I couldn't help but be ready with the camera for it. All it did was add fluster which resulted in one not very good picture and me not really enjoying his wave at us. It was dumb because they said we could snap photos from the line, so why did I feel compelled to do this?

My misplaced priorities captured this rather than soaking in the grand entrance of Mr Willy Wonka, himself.

And for what, since I would soon get this!

The fact is, if you hide behind a camera through all the best bits, you aren't capturing a spectacular memory at all because you weren't really there. You might as well have been at home watching a fuzzy clip on YouTube than at the concert or event if that's what you're going to do and Lord knows how unrewarding watching those videos and viewing those photos usually turns out to be. Don't even start me on the camera phones! We need to put the camera down and bring back the human experience back to these experiences. Or at least don't pull it out until a shitty song you don't like very much is on.
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