Seeing the world with artificial eyes
These days we can take photos anytime, anywhere. When you run into a celebrity on the street, you might take a photo to prove it to your friends or family. Kindergarten talent shows or graduation ceremonies are perfect photo ops for proud mobile-phone-toting parents, who try not to miss a single precious moment of their 5-year-old’s amazing performance.
Some people take photos of spectacular scenery or great food. They see photos as souvenirs that can easily be shared via social network services like Twitter and Facebook. .
In a recent interview, Umberto Eco said he used to take photographs when he traveled, but when he printed the photos, he could not remember what they were. So he decided to see things with his own eyes rather than through a camera.
He added that it seems young people today cannot see the world without a cell phone or a camera, that they experience life through artificial eyes.
Members of the audience who recorded the performance throughout the concert may think they saw the show. What they actually saw was not the real gig but the stage captured on their phones. Even when they went to a live performance rather than listening to a recording or watching television, they preferred their artificial eyes. They shoot the performance instead of enjoying the music. Probably, they had to focus their attention on making sure the video was recording properly rather than appreciating the live music.
When you are at your child’s talent show, if you are most concerned with taking a great video, you may not be able to enjoy the important moment itself. Just as Eco said, you may not be able to remember the show.
If you work too hard to keep a visual record of memories, you are relinquishing a piece of present reality for some ambiguous future. Instead of appreciating the great view or enjoying great food right now, you may feel that sharing special memories on SNS in the future is what is most important.
What about couples who are obsessed with celebrations? Instead of concentrating on the here and now, they are distracted by thoughts of how the special moment is recorded and displayed.
Perhaps we actually believe we are living in the moment when we see life through a viewfinder, when in reality we are enslaved by technology and the hope of preserving happy memories.
*The author is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.
By Yang Sunny