‘Is it live or is it Memorex?’ What a dated title, eh? Oh well. I’m going with it.
Robert Siegel, from NPR’s All Things Considered, was interviewing George Clooney. When asked about the attention George receives from fans, George responds:
“I’ve walked with very famous people down red carpets over to the crowd of thousands of people,” he says, “and you’ll reach out to shake their hand and they’ve got a camera in their hand. And they don’t even get their hand out, because they’re recording the whole time. And you can tell people that you recorded Brad Pitt, but it would be very hard for you to say you actually met him, because you were watching it all through your phone. I think that’s too bad, because I think people are experiencing less and recording more.”
Robert Siegel noted that for George Clooney, “the presence of cameras in the hands of every observer doesn’t just mean too much attention and too much recording; it means the loss of the ability to experience things directly.”
I caught a whiff of that message in the early 90s, long before social media.
When I graduated from college, my siblings got together and bought me a ticket to Los Angeles to visit my sister and her husband. While there, we went to Universal Studios, and we took a road trip to Las Vegas.
I remember schlepping my other sister’s old (and heavy) video camera with me. I recorded just about every moment of that trip. In fact, during one of the ‘rides’ in Universal Studios, my sister said, “Put your camera down and experience this.”
I didn’t listen.
When I got home and watched the tape, I understood what my sister was telling me. Rather than experiencing the ride as it happened, I experienced the ride through a camera lens. What a shame.
Lesson learned, right? I wish.
As technology became more and more portable, I recorded more and more life events. I remember recording my son’s Christmas program, watching it at home and realizing once again, “Wow, I didn’t really see my kid perform.”
By the same token, Joe loved that I captured the program on video, because he wanted to show Daddy, who was out of town the night the performance took place. And, for my husband, seeing the video was great. It was an acceptable substitute for the real thing.
So, it is okay to record moments sometimes, right?
Recently, Joe had his first class presentation. He had to research Sea Urchins and present his research in front of his class. Parents were invited to attend the day of their child’s presentation. That day I decided not to record Joe’s presentation. Yes, I snapped a few pictures, but mainly I sat and listened. I watched – first hand – as my son explained the life of a Sea Urchin, its tubes, teeth and habitat. I watched his body language – mostly confident but slightly nervous. And, I listened to him answer questions asked by his classmates. I experienced Joe’s presentation – live.
When Joe came home at the end of the day, he asked me if I recorded his presentation.
“No,” I said. “I wanted to experience your presentation first hand. I didn’t want to watch you through the lens of my camera.”
He smiled and said, “Did you like it?”
“Yes. Yes I did, Joe.”
More often than not, you’ll find me with my camera in hand. I am taking more and more pictures, in part, because every day I am posting a new picture on my blog. However, I’m taking fewer videos. I’ve decided videos are nice treasures and keepsakes, but living the moment is even better. Because, life moves pretty fast, and I want to make sure I am seeing it live. Plus, the camera adds like 10 lbs to my figure. (Or, maybe that’s my ice cream consumption.)
Are you experiencing life? Your experiences … are they live or are they Memorex?
For those young ones, born after the age of cassette tapes, I enlighten you to the thought behind my Memorex title: