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We are too busy posing and snapping to just savor today.
My friend’s teenage daughter is on a class trip. “All the other girls are posting pictures on Facebook and Instagram – or they’re texting them. You’re not doing any of it,” complained my friend to her child. “I want to see what you’re doing.”
“But mom,” responded the wiser-than-her-years (or peers) adolescent, “I want to be able to focus on what I’m seeing. I want to be able to understand it and enjoy it and not be preoccupied with photographing it and emailing it.”
My friend was taken aback – in a good way. It made her stop and think. I pointed out to her (ever so tactfully) that her daughter’s position has support in a recent study led by Linda Henckel, Ph.D. Her researchers discovered that people remember events less well if they spend them snapping multiple pictures. It prevents them from engaging in the moment.
I would add that it also prevents them from enjoying the moment. In an effort to save them for that elusive and ill-defined phenomenon known as “posterity,” we miss the opportunity for pleasure in the here and now. We are too busy posing and snapping to just savor today.
This is an attitude I have always sympathized with and have adopted personally – to the chagrin of my children and the videoing mothers around me. They anticipate frustration at some future date when, in a fit of nostalgia and in that all too brief moment when all is calm, they will want to watch their third grade Torah play or their fifth grade dance recital. I won’t have it (even if I had recorded it, it would be on a video cassette that no one has the ability to watch anymore!).
But they can take pleasure in knowing that I was there – alert and focused only on them – and not on any camera or phone equipment. I wasn’t concerned about the battery dying or fiddling with the on and off switches.
It’s very difficult to be “in the moment.” We’re either obsessing over the past or agonizing about the future. So if I can capture some brief family time – a play, a speech, a concert, a picnic, an afternoon at the beach – where I am present and accounted for, I don’t want to distract myself by trying to capture it on film. I want to just stop - and quietly enjoy. I want to store it up internally, as a memory that I can take with me wherever I go. Maybe I’ll bring my friend’s daughter with me…