Mom! No Phone! Take Pictures with Your Eyes and Your Brain!

2 Jun

As a huge aficionado of all things social media and tech, a few years ago this admonition about my phone photo-taking from my daughter, while on a hike, of  “Mom, stop!  Take pictures with your eyes and your brain!” in the woods gave me pause.

If a tree falls in the woods and we didn’t post a pic on Instagram, did it make a sound?

She was right, of course. I had gotten so used to the habit? idea? process? – nay, the compulsion – of photographing or videoing everything, that I was forgetting why humans enjoy experiences to start with.

Sure, wanting to capture memories and share them (sharing them in visual forms is new) is quite human. Storytelling is how all history has been passed on since the dawn of time. Social media is simply an exponentially faster and easier route to storytelling and sharing experiences.

Or is it?

I think of times I have been so bent on taking pictures – not to mention perhaps tagging places and people, adding hashtags and filters, cropping, sharing to multiple platforms – that I realized in horror that I had only witnessed the moment as a bystander, when what I really wanted as a human was to experience the moment.

Who is this captured memory for?  Could you relive the sights, smells, sounds, and emotions from this yourself in 2o years or did you miss it trying to find the right filter?

And that is exactly what Isabella pointed out. We all have the greatest camera ever right here, right now. “Take a picture with your eyes and your brain!”

Really, if everything in the digital world was suddenly deleted, we always still have that – same as it ever was. All of humanity – before Facebook, of course – remembered everything as the beautiful moment in which it happened.

Although I still love social media and technology, I almost never use headphones (in general), or look at my phone when walking, driving (duh, never do that), hiking, or otherwise “being Zen.”  When I walk the dog, the sites and sounds around me are my environment. Almost as if – it was my environment. 😉

When I drive my long commute (45 minutes) I sometimes listen to books and occasionally MUSIC WAY TOO LOUD! but most often, I enjoy the silence and use it as time to think.

Now when I walk in nature, I always have my phone, and am compelled to take pictures of beautiful things of course, but mostly when a beautiful thing summons a feeling I want to remember with a quick snap (also no headphones).

I do take and share tons of photos and videos at nonprofit events where my main goal is to share a feeling of inspiration, brought about by something happening – with others.

But as myself, even when traveling to China recently, I limited my “viewing through a lens” in favor of “viewing through my soul.”

When we all look back 40 years from now, we won’t recall what filter we used or how great we looked at a certain angle in a selfie. We won’t recall what hashtag it was, or who or where we tagged.

If we’re lucky, we’ll actually remember the feelings and emotions we had by being present, in that moment, seeing and feeling the sights and sounds and smells and the emotions and memories that were triggered.

Maybe we can all try to feel and BE  — instead of capture and share. A decade from now around a campfire, the sights and smells and emotions and thoughts and feelings of a moment will be the only things we recall.   We’ll tell real stories about real people and events because we’re real humans.  And if we’re not present when they’re happening, no funny Snap filter or Facebook live video will fully bring it back.

Think about whether you want all your memories to be accessible only by digital photos and social media, or if you want to “take a picture with your eyes and your brain!” and carry it around with you forever.

The good news is you don’t have to choose live memories or virtual, but think about which one *really* lives on forever if everything else gets deleted.

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