Once you become aware of the tremendous use of cellphones as video cameras in all aspects of life, it becomes impossible to overlook. At concerts people hold cellphones high to record artists’ performances. At weddings, those in the crowd sniffle while gazing at the scene through the camera on their phones. Walking through a park, two girls run towards each other as if they have not seen each other in months, both staring at their phones as they try to run towards one another and record their reunion at the same time. In lecture halls. During rain storms. At sports games. You name it.
Our generation has had the privilege of living in the period of fastest technological advancement our world has ever seen. We carry supercomputers in our pockets that are better than the computers used by NASA during the Apollo Era. That sentence alone should make us feel powerful. Yet, are we actually harming ourselves by living through a screen?
The video camera was invented almost a hundred years ago, for broadcast use. Seventy years later, Sony released the first camcorder, which captured both video and sounds. These dinosaurs of technology were huge, bulky and heavy, with short battery lives. We’ve all seen home videos of ourselves or our parents when they were young, characterized by the fashion choices, hairstyles and grainy video quality. No matter their quality, these videos are usually treasured. They are kept on tape, or have been transferred onto DVDs for safe keeping. They represent a fun family sit down to watch the maybe hour or two of family videos that were captured and cherished.
Can millennials, and future generations, say that it will be the same for them? We seem enthralled and obsessed with the idea of making sure we capture absolutely every moment that may become a worthy memory on video. What will happen when we have weeks, months or years worth of video piled up from recording every valuable moment in our lives? The quantity will kill the quality — because of this, we cherish our own memories less.
Not only will the quantity overload us, but we will have become desensitized to actually physically experiencing the moments we try to capture as they happen. If you are so concerned with making sure you keep the band in the screen of your phone during a concert, you forget to look beyond your phone and see it with your own eyes. If you try to record yourself running toward your friend, you’re worried about making sure the camera’s view isn’t blocked when you reach them that you don’t appreciate the glee of hugging someone you care about.
While we have been granted the power to record and perfectly capture our lives as they unfold, we have the responsibility of making sure that power is used for good. There is nothing wrong with wanting to relive a memory through video, but when we forget to live in the moment and truly experience life as it happens, it won’t feel the same when we watch the video a few years down the road, and it would all have been for nothing.