MANY times I’ve found myself torn between reaching for my phone or camera and taking pictures of beautiful moments, breath-taking sceneries, once-in-a-lifetime events – or just letting myself be fully-immersed in the experience, being in the moment, seeing things not through a screen or view-finder but through my very own eyes.
Maybe this new obsession with documenting everything – from trips, food, and daily outfits to even the most inane of things – is the effect of social media. A friend and I recently talked about a new philosophical dilemma that’s emerging – “If something was never posted on Facebook or Instagram, did it actually happen?”
I’ve never been against taking pictures or social media, on the contrary I’m a frustrated photographer myself. I like taking pictures of the places I’ve been so I can scroll through them on my phone later, and so I can share them on social media. But I admit that the act of immediately taking selfies and intentionally framed Instagram shots takes away from the experience.
Even just the act of reaching for my phone or camera removes me from the moment. I could be marvelling at scenery, taking everything in, calmly reflecting my place in the universe – instead I’m watching the landscape unfold through the lens and screens.
It’s weighing the value photographs over memories, its valuing Facebook bragging over living in the moment.
I’ve set a rule for myself: give at least fifteen minutes to just catching your breath and wide-eyed wondering, before reaching for a camera. Letting the surroundings wash over you like waves or the wind, letting your senses take everything in, living life completely in the moment.
Let’s face it, photographs can capture only vision and sight. Photographs can’t capture exactly how you felt in that moment. It can’t capture the soft cool breeze or the calming sounds of nature. It can’t capture the scent of pine trees or the salty sea, and the joy you feel as your exhaustion fades away after a long trek. It can’t capture the sense of fulfilment and feeling of being one with the world. But memories can, and later in life you can play them back inside your head, when you’re feeling nostalgic or reflective.
Breathe in and take it all in, hide your phone and camera for now, and just live in the moment even for just a few blissful minutes./PN