I sat there at the table feeding my 8-month-old daughter porridge. Spoonful after spoonful I dutifully delivered to her the breakfast she was seeking to devour. She was enjoying it and I was enjoying feeding her. She sat there in her highchair, smiling away and looking at me intently, waiting for the next spoonful.
At that point I naturally went towards my phone. This wasn’t to receive a call or check my messages. No, this was to open up my camera app and start putting those priceless smiles and eyes into digital format. After all, I had to capture the moment.
After taking about 10 photos, all very similar of course, I began to think something wasn’t quite right.
Here I was, sitting at the table with my living in-the-flesh daughter directly in front of me, both of us enjoying our time together and the connection we were obviously having in sharing breakfast.
But instead of simply enjoying the moment, I decided to objectify it.
I decided to take this precious moment and stick it in digital format, rather than continue to be mesmerised by my lovely girl. I decided to interrupt breakfast, interrupt our smiling and cooing and eating, and inject some foreign device into the middle of our eyesight all for the sake of capturing another moment on camera.
I don’t think that’s the way I’m meant to be living. I don’t think that’s the way we’re meant to be living.
The wife and I were travelling in Jordan once and we came upon a fellow-traveller who joined us for a desert safari trip for a few hours. He’d been travelling around the country a while and had decided not to take a camera with him. Instead, he asked us (and others he came across) to email him one photo when we were back home and when we had the chance. He didn’t want to be constantly taking photos of what he was seeing, he wanted to enjoy what was in front of him.
I’ve been taken by this idea ever since that trip. It’s counter-intuitive, almost counter-cultural.
Somehow we’ve become OK with interrupting the precious, special, fabulous, emotional (insert your adjective here) moments rather than get taken away with them. We’ve stopped enjoying life because we’re always trying to capture it.
This realisation won’t stop me from taking photos of my daughter, no, I’ll still want to take 10 photos in one hit. I’ll still want to interrupt great moments to video or digitise her for posterity. But what I will do is begin to think through it a bit more. Learn to live in the moment rather than watch it from the sideline. I want to keep engaged. I want to stay focussed for as long as possible. It seems I need to teach myself to just put the phone down. Just put it down.
What about you? Do you do a similar thing? Had similar thoughts? It’d be great to hear from you below.