Is it live or is it Memorex?

‘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’ย  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:

30 thoughts on “Is it live or is it Memorex?

  1. Our video camera was stolen when my son was just over a year old taking with it all of the video that I’d never gotten around to downloading and never watched. Now my son is just over two and I have an even smaller son and am only taking stills, I find that I am enjoying the experience so much more.

    1. Oh BC, I am very sorry you lost the video camera, especially because memories were still ‘loaded’. Good to know you are enjoying the experiences more now, though. This was the first year I did not video tape my oldest son blowing out his candles – instead, I captured a still shot. That meant – I was able to really participate in the birthday celebration. Much more enjoyable, I think. Though I will still make an effort to record some things – just to capture their voice. But the things I capture will be casual moments – not big moments, because I don’t want to miss those moments. ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks for commenting and spending your time here.

      1. Itr was sad to lose the recordings but I still have the memories even if they’re somewhat distorted by time and the insurance from the video camera and my two stills camera’s paid for one really nice stills camera so I’m quids in I guess

  2. I can’t tell you the hours of video we still have on shelves and haven’t viewed. However, I do remember Daughter #2 watching and watching them, choosing them over some other full feature film or animated feature. Daughter #1 wasn’t as interested. I would say keep on shooting video. Wondering to myself. Does that word still apply? I wonder since it’s all on computer chips or some such “memory.” Now all that video…miles and miles, hours and hours needs to be transferred to disc? What a conundrum. There’s a lot of time-consuming, high maintenance in our efforts to “preserve memories.” Great post!

    1. Isn’t that the truth – high maintenance and time consuming efforts are made to preserve moments.
      I am grateful to have some moments captured, but I don’t need every special event; at least I don’t need every event captured on ‘talking pictures’.

  3. Great point, Lenore. I remember driving with a friend in Tuscon, Arizona. It had just rained in the dessert – a rarity for that area – and a beautiful rainbow appeared. My friend went to town snapping a dozen photos of the rainbow before it disappeared. I didn’t take one photo because I wanted to experience it for myself and not through the lens of a camera. It’s nice to record events for posterity but it’s more important to be present and enjoy the moment.

    1. That’s funny, Jackie. I went out West and came home with tons of video of the trip. Fact is – sitting quietly on the red rocks was more meaningful than watching the videos again. Much like rainbows. Maybe I’d snap one shot – but then I’d admire it ‘live’, in the moment, like you did.

  4. Ooh yes, I recall that phrase, Lenore. The camera is in my hands a lot also, still there are times when I put it down to enjoy the experience.

    That’s a wow presentation by Joe; one of those put the camera down moments.

    Blessings – Maxi

  5. A shot with the camera can easily capture the moment but it can’t always capture the feeling. George is right, and so are you. ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Thanks, Bella. I will forever be taking pictures – but the video will be limited. Seeing a performance or celebration through a lens isn’t as fun as living it. Who knew George was wise?! ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. It’s so true, something weird happens when you have that camera between you and the world. It is like you’re not fully ‘there’ experiencing it (or there at all!) I recorded plenty when my kids were babies but now that they’re older, I find myself recording less and less. Sure, it’s nice to look back on videos/pictures to remember a moment in time. But there is nothing that can replace being FULLY in the moment. Sadly, we all are so busy with technology now, we don’t even know how to just ‘be’ anymore.

    1. Technology is a great thing, but we tend to lose ourselves in the gadgets. I’ll still record on occasion, but I’ve cut back significantly. Here’s to actually seeing things when then happen!

  7. I remember Memorex! I’ve never video taped anything. Those cameras were so heavy when they first came out; so much changes with technology, so fast. I’m content to shoot with a still camera.

  8. Very good post, LD. I have been amazed when I’ve gone to museums recently and I see nothing but people with their phones at arms’ length taking photos and video. I don’t get it. I mean, I love a good picture, but come on!

    I also think video is one of the worst things. Does anyone ever go back and WATCH the videos they shoot? I was in Las Vegas earlier this month and I saw couple after couple videoing while they were walking down the street. I can’t imagine them saying, “Hey honey, let’s re-watch that time we walked past Caesars” Crazy.

    1. That’s just it – you take the video, but how often do you go back to watch? I admit, I have a few videos of the kids that I will watch fairly regularly. But the videos were deliberately taken for video. By that I mean, Rob is throwing the boys up, and Joe asked me to film it. So, I did. Another one, I am having the boys sing for me. So again, these are deliberate movies being made.
      I recorded Joe’s Christmas program last year, and I regret it so much. I’ve watched the video – and it’s not good. Yet, that’s how I saw it ‘live’. Too bad.

  9. So true. This past Christmas morning my husband handed me the video camera while he snapped the pics of the kids opening their presents. I was torn between capturing the moment on video and experiencing it first hand. Honestly, I wished I would have just watched and now had an uninterrupted memory of the morning. We haven’t even bothered to watch the video.

  10. Very insightful post, Lenore. We observed when our boys were small that my husband was missing out on a lot by taping so much. If we really wanted a video (Christmas programs, etc), we set the camera up on a tripod, so that Steve could enjoy the show. These days we tend to video less and in short segments.

  11. You were so in my head when you wrote this! Either that, or I was totally in your head when I wrote this:

    “I was using a digital camera to capture the moment on video. I was thinking of how exciting it would be to watch the video in the months to come in order to re-live the exciting moment. As I struggled to get a good angle and keep the bridge within the scope of the display screen, I realized that โ€˜re-liveโ€™ wouldnโ€™t be accurate, because I wasnโ€™t actually living the moment! I was on an incredible ship sailing down the Hudson with amazing views all around me, and I was watching it all on a 3-inch screen!”

    (And I totally remember that commercial. I might even still have some stuff on Memorex tapes.)

    You’re so right about this – it really is a tricky balancing act. Like I said above, when I realized how far I was removing myself from an amazing experience, I kicked myself and then started to enjoy the moment more.

    At the same time, sometimes the effort is worth it. Last year, my two sisters and I paid a surprise weekend visit to my fourth sister in Florida. The three of us waited outside while her husband, our accomplice, told her some story to come outside. I was recording it with my camera. She came out, we yelled, and she stood there with an indescribable look of shock on her face. I kept recording until one of us went to hug her and she slowly realized what was going on. Then I stopped recording and joined in. So I got the best of both worlds ๐Ÿ™‚ But it’s hard to make sure it always works out that way.

    Awesome post, Lenore!

    1. It is so good to see you active again, Leonore. The fact that you enjoyed my pots is a bonus! (smile)
      I am glad you really enjoyed it, and I am glad you can relate and have ‘learned’ the lesson.
      Thank you again.

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