I get it, but I don't necessarily understand it.
Or perhaps it's the other way around...
Either way, the miniaturization of cameras and their insertion into virtually every handheld communication device has made us a nation of cyclopses. The big screen of life as we now know it is increasingly viewed through the small screen in our palms.
The result includes the rise "citizen journalism," and terrabytes of imagery stored and displayed on YouTube, Flickr, Photobucket, Facebook and the like.
That's the good news.
The bad news is that people are losing the emotional value of the live moment.
Tell ya what I mean--a couple of weeks ago, I took in the momentous "Walking With Dinosaurs" show when it rumbled into town. While not without its flaws, the life-size, life-like re-creations of dinosaurs were staggering, and given their immense grandeur, literally "in your face."
Yet as I watched the show, I was distracted by a persistent glow throughout the arena--the glow of cameras and cellphones capturing the gargantuan action on teeny screens. So transfixed were these spectators that most of 'em didn't even look up.
It wasn't just the dinosaurs. At two concerts I attended over the past three weeks, people all around me did the same, from vantage points that reduced the on-stage action into little more than unrecognizable stick figures bathed in a colorful blur of light on their screens.
As I said, I get it. You pays your ticket, you wanna bring home a souvenir of the show...and share it with others. But in doing so, something's gotta give. It's hard to clap with one hand affixed to an electronic device. It's hard to dance if it throws off the focus and stabilization. It's hard to appreciate the emotion of the immediate when you are absorbing it for tomorrow through the filter of a camera lens. Ask yourself:
Are you enjoying?
Or merely capturing?
It reminds me of a parent of one of my son's gradeschool classmates. He attended EVERY ONE of his daughter's recitals, plays, events, what have you, but saw EVERY SINGLE MINUTE of 'em through a video camera. For six years, I never saw this guy's right eye. So...while he can re-live every moment, the real question is:
This is the problem.
If I were a band or a touring show, what I would do is give each fan a free DVD (I would say weblink, but most of the stuff ALREADY exists on the web) stocked with hundreds of photos, video clips et al, and tell 'em that why I don't mind if they take pix, I would rather they stay focused on the show itself.
This way, they could have their souvenir cake, eat it too, and fully absorb the moments that build the crucial stage-to-fan bond.
Because once that goes...there will nothing left to take pictures of.
Except, maybe, you and I.