Monday, February 2, 2009

If a Tree Falls


Barack and Michelle Obama entering the inaugural ball on January 20, 2009. What strikes me about this image is that everyone in the audience is viewing the moment via their cell phones and cameras. Not just the press corps, but the attendees, everyone.

This is a phenomenon that I struggle with. Which is more important, participating in the moment, or documenting it? This was an easier question when our technology was still cumbersome and unfamiliar (picture the annoying Dad carrying an eight pound video recorder through an entire family vacation). But now, it's not as easy to draw a line between participation and documentation.

Which is more important, experiencing the moment fully, or being able to share it almost instantaneously with your family, friends, or blog followers? Is the experience somehow enhanced by being able to share it in nearly real time? Is the experience somehow diminished if it's not recorded? That seems to be the modern consensus if the picture above carries any significance. But then, there was a press corps present, a member of which took the picture, so the moment above was, in fact, being recorded. What's astounding is how many people felt the need to record it themselves.

I worry that we are entering an era in which our identities are somehow so tied to other people, that we will all become trees in the forest, afraid that our experiences, our lives, ourselves, will be lost, or perhaps not exist at all, if no one is around to witness it.


  1. Nicely put. There have been a few occasions that I wish were recorded, but mostly I'm happy remembering. A recent turn of events is causing me to consider this more deeply.

  2. this is so eloquentley put into words. i worry about this often, in fact. i am so prone to grab my camera and start snapping away to fully document a moment. but am I really missing out on the moment?... or is my experience just slightly different given the fact that it is perceived and cataloged through the lens. but, am i missing out on just being within the moment? i also wonder about all the technological communication advancements. There are so many ways to communicate via computer, text, iPod, cell phone, etc. these days you can completely avoid face to face interaction and communication. sheesh, you could blow off a friend or break up with a boyfriend without leaving the warm glow of your computer screen. it makes me wonder. although we maybe communicating more efficiently, are we losing the personal aspect of communication. are we, in fact, more connected and yet feeling oddly disconnected.

  3. It's precisely why I left my camera in the car the other night. To simply take in the scene with all my senses was more rich than could possibly be recorded anywhere other than my memory.