From all appearances, just about every Missourian, and many from well beyond, attended the final round of the PGA golf championship this past weekend. From what I saw on television, however, I have no better idea of what someone from Missouri looks like. All I saw were smart phones.
That’s the new norm, of course. Anyone with a front row seat to history is not watching it; they’re filming it. They’re literally living their life through their phone.
The most obvious question is, why? Are they really going to watch Tiger’s drive on the third hole years from now?
I suspect people are just documenting their presence. They might show the video to colleagues at the office or send it out to close friends. Fair enough. But what does that suggest? Desperation, perhaps? If it’s personal validation we need, our mere attendance at a sporting event is pretty artificial.
I sense that we’re all feeling more than a little disconnected from the world at the moment. I wonder, however, if smart phone technology is helping or hurting. Can you really connect to the world through your phone? I don’t think so. It’s a thing.
And what are the long-term implications? Smart phone cameras have gotten much better, but they aren’t human eyes. And it’s not just a question of resolution.
Scientists are just beginning to understand the human brain and the senses that feed it. But the old truism, you can’t know what you don’t know, still applies. We still don’t know how emotions are formed or where contentment comes from. We have only theories about how we develop a meaningful sense of connection to the world around us. Is it really smart to put a permanent smart phone between us and the reality around us until we do?
I’ve done it, mind you. I went through a phase when my daughters were quite young when I filmed them constantly. And then I created clever little movies on my Macintosh.
Whenever I suggest we watch one, however, they have no interest. They’re on their phones checking out the latest Instagram posts. (They tell me that Facebook is so passé.)
I’m actively trying to unwire now. I consciously leave my smart phone at home quite frequently. And somehow, I must say, I actually feel more connected. Since I can’t check messages while standing in the checkout line, I actually observe.
And what I’ve observed most, to be honest, are people living through their smart phones. Everyone is texting, talking, checking their social media accounts, and, yes, snapping pictures. It’s all a bit bizarre once you sit back and truly observe it.
But each to his own. I do know, however, that if I ever get the chance to watch Tiger hit a golf ball in person, I won’t be taking any video. I want to be in the moment. I want to observe all of the reality—pixels and beyond. I want to be there, not filming there.
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