Last weekend I accompanied my five-year-old son to his little-league team photo shoot.
The professional photo studio and “baseball field backdrop” in the elementary-school gym made for a strange scene — specially considering there was a real baseball field a few feet outside, and it was a sunny day with beautiful light.
But things got really strange when 10 parents urgently whipped out their smartphones to capture their own shots of the professional photographer taking the official team photo.
Even stranger, the parents were paying more attention to their smartphones and the act of shooting than to their kids.
As a result, the parents made for a more interesting picture than their kids, who were sitting around patiently in pose. For that, I felt sorry for the kids.
This scene was at once ironic, cliched and metaphysical.
As a participant, I captured my own photo evidence here.
The ramifications of this all-too-common behavior transcend parenting and baseball.
Digital cameras in smartphones have prompted a new shutterbug addiction fueling three disturbing trends:
1. Sacrificing the moment. If you’re screwing around with a clumsy gadget, your senses and attention to the moment degrade. Research has shown that using a smartphone while driving is akin to driving while intoxicated. Logic would suggest the same goes for using a smartphone while engaging in any other activity.
2. Redefining the moment. Like the “helicopter shutterbugs” I described earlier, screwing around with a clumsy gadget while capturing the moment can completely alter the scene. It can create a spectacle and command attention away from the original focus. The observer becomes the observed.
3. Prioritizing capture and sharing over the moment. Are people deliberately prioritizing the capture of the moment over the moment itself? For many, the former is is becoming a bigger accomplishment, a greater pleasure, and a higher calling.
The result is a life construct that devalues immersion and experience in favor of evidence and sharing. It propagates an expectation that life doesn’t exist without evidence and sharing. It desensitizes living and feeling.
To me, that’s inhumane. I don’t like it.
I believe the right life balance is one with high immersion and experience. Secondary should be highly selective and limited photo capture and sharing.
What about you?