I recently came across this video for the 50th time and was just as riveted as I was the first time around. I love it because I have this overwhelming desire to participate in a flash mob (just typing the words has me thinking about bookish flash mob ideas), but every time I watch it I’m struck by how many people are present for the performance and completely miss out on the experience. This isn’t because they don’t appreciate music or recognize the talent of the performers, but because they watch the whole thing through their phone screen!
I know I’m guilty of this. I’ve watched great things happen through my 4-inch screen because I wanted to save it for later and share it with friends and family. For example, I spent my first few trips into the Rocky Mountains with my phone glued to the car window so as not to miss anything amazing. Years ago, when smartphones first hit the mainstream market, I did the same thing at concerts. The problem, of course, is that I completely missed out on the experiences themselves. I was so focused on keeping my hand steady and maneuvering around people who were blocking my view (invariably also holding a phone up) that I didn’t pick up on the vibration of excitement running through the people around me or the truly hard work the performers were putting into their act.
Looking back at some of my must-have photos and videos, I’m pretty indifferent them. What sparks a feeling in my gut is when I think about some of my experiences that I didn’t document. This is because instead of being a third-party photographer, I was an active participant. In hindsight, I know that despite being present for a number of wonderful events, my experiences weren’t much different than if I had watched them on YouTube. This is pretty depressing, but I’m much better now than I was 5 years ago, so I consider it progress. Now I know that not everything needs to be documented and some of the best experiences require actually experiencing them. So put down the phone and go experience something! Oh, and watch this awesome video.