Saturday, October 31, 2009

Living The Moment

Improvements in digital storage technology may go on to ruin our lives. Here is a familiar sight: go to any tourist spot, concert, game, show, event, temple functions - essentially any place where stuff happens - you will see 10 morons with cell phone based image/video cameras, recording that stuff. Nobody really knows why they record it. What is evident is the fact that they are not paying attention to the event and instead are focused on operating the recording device.

If you look at their faces you may notice that they have a serious air about them. They give an impression that they are experts in the field of the stuff being recorded. It is a look that misleads us to believe that it is their profession to capture such events for archiving. Probably they want us to assume that they are interested in this stuff more than the average person. That they are recording this event to pore on it it, study it for 300 years and research the heck out of it for several years to come. In reality these morons don't even know what the event is about and probably don't understand any aspect of it. They are just passing tourists who record anything, including them going to the toilet, as a matter of reflex. There is no sight that is more irritating than 10 or 15 morons, blocking your view by raising their hands and recording events that they will never see again.

Even more irritating is the fact that these morons are recording the event purely to post it in facebook.

Leads me to suspect that humans may have already lost the ability to soak in and live the moment. At one point they were capable of going to a (a) place for vacation and truly enjoying the place or (b) concert or a discourse and simply listen. Enjoy. Feel the moment. The intense experience of the moment caused them to remember the moment for years to come. But that was in the past.

I realized this recently during the course of two Jesudas concerts - a carnatic one at Madras during the last music season and a film songs based one in Seattle a few months ago. There was a noticeable theme in both concerts and probably all concerts to do with Jesudas: he prohibits video and audio recording of his concerts. This clause is his contract with the sabha or show organizers. I have to say I love that. I don't really care about his intellectual property rights. I loved the reason he provided for prohibiting this - when yet another moron with a cell phone, right royally went to the front of stage and began to video-record a song.

Jesudas stopped this moron and said: "There was a time where we could recollect a concert from 10 years ago. It is because we didn't have any distractions during the concert. We went there and applied all our concentration and attention on enjoying the concert. As a result our memory held on to the experience for a long time. Nowadays people are more focused on recording the concert. For what reason? How many people play this recording again and listen to it? How many people see these photos that they take now? It simply resides in some corner of their computer unattended"

This is what life has become in the world of Facebook, Twitter and blogs(in the case the blog this is probably known old news). I actually know people who attend events for 5 minutes or just long enough to take a photo of the event, post it in Facebook and leave. Humans have started to do things so that they can TPT about it later. The only purpose of taking photos is to put them on facebook and orkut. They have stopped living the moment and committing anything to memory. Instead they bring surrogate memory along with them and deposit their experiences there. And certainly nobody goes back and listens to audio recordings of a discourse or views videos of an old event. These recordings rot in some corner of their computer. Once they have TPT'ed about it in the Facebook, the event for all purposes is meaningless to them. As a result people miss out on great public events, personal life events (marriage, birth of child, functions) and even interesting events (concerts, meeting a celebrity etc) by focusing on a recording device instead of the moment.

I suspect that people will lose the ability to attach an emotion to a moment because the only emotion they had at that moment was a sense of panic to quickly take the recording device out and click the record button.

Disclaimer: Stating the abovious again: This commentary is more about excesses and less about Internet travelogues and Facebook TPT done in moderation.


Praveen said...

Morons indeed.

The idea as you said is "hey people I was there you know, how sad you couldn't make it"

Sid said...

Sorry to ask but TPT = ? :)
Someone goes to a concert just to take a picture, post on FB and then be off! Oh god!

Arun said...

It surprises me that someone would go to a place with the sole motive of posting something on facebook. I wonder why would they, what could be the final motive?

Facebook sometimes seems like an overload. But having spent years being away and skeptical about all those connecting tools, I have finally latched on to facebook. It has actually worked as a tool to learn and grow. But it is a matter of using it wisely, or one can go on spending a lifetime doing mundane things on it.

Karthik Narayanan said...

Did you realise that people who echo your sentiments are in a minority?

I am among them and I have mostly been labelled a cynic. I mean, these things sound cool to so many people, that its almost a way of the world.

So is the world at large so mind numbingly stupid? Or have we lost the ability to have fun?

Go figure :-)

krik krak said...

Nice post.Very true.i admit to being one of the morons.Want to change.

Sreekrishnan said...

I carry a camera - but not for Facebook sakes.. and i echo the same thoughts as you do ... but you know i am pushed to the third category where i am asked to take a pic so that they could post it in a Facebook .. be it a SmartPhone or a Camera !!

Kadi !

srinidhicr said...

Agree.. I have a similar observation while travelling. Say you're at a nice beach, beautiful sunset.. Instead of soaking in the view, all people are concerned about is taking a hundred snaps and posing with one another.. Possibly for their Facebook page !!

Strange indeed..

Sowmya Srikrishnan said...

I've lost my Twitter login and password.

Am I one of the saner lot?

A tiny jiggling mass of atoms in the Cosmic Dance of Nataraja Shiva said...

There are reasonable ways to do things and there are stupid ways to do them. While events like concerts might not bring any additional joy because of the recording, doing it in social events is another thing.

Not saying that it is all good, but there are some specific moments which could be a great treasure for the future generations. Why, I immensely enjoy audio recordings of myself as a child. It was a proper 'for-the-tape' dictation, but its brings a lot of joy now to anyone who listens to it.

Imagine a great grand daughter viewing a video of the great grand father's marriage, its a little like watching a (bit boring) historical movie.. but it could be pretty interesting! I personally would love to watch that of my own parents/ grand parents.

Maddy said...

Concert - Boring.
Recording a live concert - !!! FTW
I record very small video clips in my digicam (NOT Videocams) while travelling. These happy times are forever recorded in my travel blogs.

I said...

Post modern urge to communicate too much.

vigneshjvn said...

In the great words of saloon kada Muthu, "agreed agreed. Aamaam, agreedna innaba?" And I suppose we could collectively blame the internet instead of counting facebook, twitter, blogging et. al. A break from this electronic world is something everyone needs once in this word.

@Sid: TPT refers to Thar Perumai Thanigachalam. More explanation on Hawkeye's earlier post.

Venkat said...

profound..., introspect worthy..

Babs said...

In 2002 we planned for couple of days then decided to drive 10 hours to this abandoned place called Ceduna to watch the amazing solar eclipse, an event that occured once in 100 years, esp for downunder....
parked ourselves in nice location next to huge telescope with sun filters, the owner of the scope was kind enuf to give us some time with it while it was partial eclipse...
the moment arrived I started recording the event in my tiny canon ixus digi cam, it was full eclipse for 55 seconds....I got to watch the entire event thru that stupid 2.5 inch lcd screen (low res)..
my German mate next to me took couple of shots and soaked the moment just watching without taking his eye or blinking and slowly wore the SE glass as light came back.......

will I ever do that again (i.e. record a live event) without enjoying the moment.....never ever, ofcourse unless I'm paid for it ;-)

blackaccord said...

True.. I'm not sure if I'm right but the majority of ppl who do this are Asians.. You go to Times Square or Empire state building or any where in NY, people are so involved in taking pics, taking video on their phone/camcorder etc that most of them don't enjoy the moment of being there... Before the days of facebook/twitter, I was one among them (pudhu camcorder vaanginappo) .. After 10 tapes which were never viewed again and 4 tapes having fungus in them that they can't even be viewed anymore, I learnt my lesson.. Now a days when we go out, camcorder is a like a pooped baby needing a diaper change.. Me and my wife keep forcing it on each other :)

The Talkative Man said...

Go and enjoy the real thing people. Flickr and Youtube are there to give you stuff that's 100 times better than your lame efforts.

RamMmm said...

Blogwalked into yours on a search of "Chandrakauns" after hearing Hariprasad Chaurasia and Zakir Husain duel it out in Pune a long time back, via YouTube and I have spent the better half of the day in 'select-click, select-click' on your page. :-) Ennoda vaelai thaan kettu poachchu. :(

LO(N)L lotsa times suppressing giggles (like a girl unable to hold a funny secret, actually why are girls an easy parallel?). Nice presentation and word plays.

On 'Living the Moment', your disclaimer states it right. Escape clause.:-)

Veetila adichchu adichchu sonnaalum appappO naan kaekkaradhillai. But I look back at whatever I 'capture', still or moving, every now and then. :-)

vishesh said...

facebook is the villain, I guess :P

And truthfully I never record concerts and stuff..max I try to take a photo(to write a review about the event)..

raghu raman said...

I too fall in the morons category, though I do not record concerts. 'Technology' has its merits and demerits too.

Very nicely put.

Anonymous said...

While you are wondering about others' lack of focus (and hence not enjoying the moment) because of recording events, I am wondering at your possible lack of focus (and not enjoying the moment) in being distracted by others' lack of focus.

We can say a lot about the state of the mind by looking at the things it latches on to (and reacts).. that is true for the morons mentioned in this blog article, this blog article and this comment.


achupichu said...

It is indeed amusing that people do record things in the 'now' so that they can enjoy it in the 'future' whereas they will most probably forget the existence of the 'now' recording in the 'future'.

There. Confused you lot?

Very nice post, Hawkeye. And to the Blackaccord, who says it is mostly Asians who do that... NOT so, my dear fella.

@Anon (sr) - It is because he got distracted by the unfocused moron that he had the inspiration to put up this post. But tell me, you wouldn't notice or get distracted by a over-zealous idiot running around here and there near the stage or standing in your line of view with a camera or Digicam? Hmm?

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dusky hues said...

Camera in focus, people out of focus! The need to show off is more important than to enjoy the show. Sad but true.

I believe it is natural to desire to hold on to a special moment in life...however missing the moment to ensure revisiting it in the future is pointless.

Internet especially networking sights have created funny ideals that people across all ages seem to have fallen for. The ‘cool’ quotient these days is about being more virtual than real. Another funny thing is that all morons believe strongly that they have succeeded in capturing the ‘essence’ of the show!