The inspiration for this post was a video of a guy getting verbally/ physically abusive because someone spilled coffee on his suit, which I saw on the news today. The video is not of the best quality and the majority of the screen is covered by OTHER PEOPLE FILMING THE INCIDENT. I mean c’mon!
This is not to debate the actions of the “villain” in this short film, but the actions of the camera… person (since I do not know if that was a male or a female [or 1 of the other 97 genders]), and the actions of the spectators.
Our cellphones have been an integral part of our lives. With their evolution to “smartphones”, they are able to: call, text, browse the web, take pictures, record videos, and so much more. We have become so reliant on our phones that we cannot imagine living without them. A recent survey shows that 100% of Americans age 18-29 have a cellphone. Smartphones being 92% of that. That is INSANE to me. I know, I know – times have changed. Everyday life requires us to carry a phone, be it for emergencies, to check work emails, or to find the fastest route to where you need to go when you are in a new city. But will you look me in the eye and tell me that everyone needs their phones 24/7 365/year?
Just this past weekend I found myself on a bus looking around… I got a mild anxiety attack seeing EVERY SINGLE person around me on their phones. Thankfully, two people quickly put away their phones after doing what they had to do, and my mental state of exclusion eased up. It is not rare to have a cellphone zombie bump into you on the sidewalk just because they have not looked up in miles. I believe that I am doing them a favor by not getting out of the way, because I hope I raise some sort of an alarm in their head and maybe prevent them from being hit by a car further down the road.
As a society, we stopped enjoying the little things in life. While it is understandable that you would like to take a picture of a spectacular landscape to savor it in the future, do not spend 95% of your time there editing the photo, hash-tagging it, posting it on ALL of your social media and then chatting with the people commenting on it. Savor it there and then. Take a quick pic/vid. And take it in some more. With your eyes. With your ears. With your nose. Because when you do, it will be easier for you to feel as if you were there again while looking at the photos years down the line. Have we not all heard about numerous people DYING because they went too far to take the best picture they thought they could get? When you meet with a friend you have not seen in years, put away the phone. Do not let the other person catch you zoning out, looking at your phone while they are filling you in on their lives. It is disrespectful and you could miss out on having a good time. When you sit at a dinner table with your family or friends – enjoy the food and the (sometimes awkward) conversations instead of checking your Facebook feed for the 10th time this minute.
And while I do not understand why one HAS to look at their phone while they walk for extended periods of time, or why it is necessary to mindlessly browse through the same Facebook feeds every minute, what bothers me the most is video recording – like in the video at the beginning of this post. When did we become so passive that when there is some sort of “drama” going on around us all we can do is video it. You do not see a bunch of people jumping in trying to diffuse the situation, but a bunch of people standing around making sure that they get it all on camera. Why? What is the point? What does such a video add to our society? How does it enrich our culture? Sure, if you are the only one in a potentially criminal situation without other witnesses, you could record things for proof to backup your testimony. But at the same time, you might want to think about the potential danger you are putting yourself in by prolonging your stay at the scene. When it is a random brawl between two slightly drunken guys, or a screaming match between two girls standing there and recording that will not do anyone any good. You are going to try and embarrass the people by invading their privacy and so you will post it online. Chances are you will get a couple “LOL”s from your social media network and then you will go to sleep and wake up another day and life will still be the same. Maybe then you will realize that you should have just kept walking and left them be. You trying to be a producer of a reality TV show is rarely in your cards.
To me, the video recordings are a form of blackmail. Someone does not like what you are saying, so they pull out a phone and start recording you. That of course irritates the heck out of the person being recorded and they go ahead and start acting crazy. A self-fulfilling prophecy. You wanted something worth recording, there you go. Do not be surprised if you try this on me and I end up kicking your phone out of your hand and then throwing it under a truck’s tires.
Sometimes, you might be more useful to society if you participate in diffusing the drama, instead of idly standing behind your recording phone. If you cannot be useful in a situation, just keep on walking. Don’t you have somewhere to be?