This week I had intended to write about something else. But then I went to Berlin Philharmonic and I changed my mind. No, it wasn’t the performance that has provoked it. Unfortunately.
We were asked to turn off any devices and the lights went down. The show had barely started when there she was, two rows below me, a woman with her tablet on and ready to shoot. You’d think, ‘Oh, she got excited, a couple of quick pictures won’t bother anyone.’ Except she remained that excited for the first half of the show until apparently the device died and she was forced to satisfy her needs with a somewhat smaller smartphone screen. The Gospel show was impressive indeed, unfortunately all I could focus on was the LCD screen flashing in the dark. It wasn’t a pleasant disruption. I couldn’t believe that any German around me could actually bear it. Germans don’t tend to be timid. Or at least they weren’t while shouting ‘louder, louder!’ from their seats minutes before when the choir conductor wasn’t speaking loud enough.
I put up with my fate until the break, when I summoned as much politeness as I could bear and went down to face her. ‘I’m sorry, it’s an outstanding show, but could you please turn off your devices for the second bit?’ I was actually nervous asking this. For some reason I find confronting someone, even in obvious situations, quite stressful. At this point she was sharing the videos with a couple of her friends and barely spotted my presence. Yet she answered, but maybe it would have been better if she had said nothing: ‘But I MUST record it!’ Really? I mean, really?!
It made me think of an alternative tour I had joined earlier that day. The guide announced that we would have a 20-minute break soon but requested meanwhile that we take no pictures to keep everyone together in order to cover more ground and not lose anyone. Guess what happened five minutes later? You’ve got it. Two persons were lost and another few turning their backs on the guide while snapping their 10th picture of the same mural. Don’t even get me started about the selfie-stick.
What’s wrong with us? When did the holiday pictures become more important than the holiday itself?
Why do we need to stop the world turning to have our picture taken or our video recorded? Do we really think our friends want to browse through trillions of our ‘oh-it’s-been-so-great’ images? Even your Grandma doesn’t! Saving pictures on our hard drive is like keeping too many items at home. The more there are, the crappier it gets. Plus, we lose the message. The truth is lots of pictures much alike are already online. Just better than yours.
This leads me to another question: When did we start to care more about what’s on the screen than what’s around us? When did the devices designed to support our everyday lives, started ruling them instead?
Do you remember this powerful video that went viral a couple of years ago?
I was quite relieved when I discovered that according to Rough Guides 2016 resolutions, already 65% of their readers claim that we should start using the 21st century’s blessings in moderation and a digital detox is thought to be the up-and-coming travel trend of the year. Nothing better than to make it trendy!
So let’s not allow recording what we do to become cooler than what we do.
How to go about it? Why not leave our smartphones at home and enjoy days with a pay-as-you-go oldie that needs no charging for weeks instead? Or maybe grab a disposable camera? Remember when we used to think twice before snapping any picture?
You think nothing can stop you? How about going to a place where there’s no internet in the first place? I ended up two years ago on an island with no Internet or coverage, and I’m telling ya, it was the most memorable holiday ever. Only my family thought I was dead, so they didn’t feel quite same. Though, possibly it was memorable for them as well…
Check out these and more Steps to Giving up Social Media on Holidays!