We do not live in a cancel culture so much as we live in a verification culture. "I Instagram, therefore I am." All around us are people ignoring the experience in favor of documenting the experience. Rather than sitting and listening with eyes closed to Yo Yo Ma playing the Fugata, there is a desperate need to take a selfie in front of the Yo Yo Ma poster, the theater, and perhaps even in the audience with Yo Yo Ma or whatever performer in the background. With their backs to the stage, missing the performance, they hold the IPhone at arms length, twisting and turning to get the shot with themselves in the foreground and the artist on the stage in the background. Forget the performance, they need the picture to verify their very existence.
Count us out. The sun setting in the Pacific; the sun peaking over the rim of the Grand Canyon; an eagle in flight; a deer wandering out of the woods; a symphony in full musical flight. These are the memories that the selfie cancels. What feelings does the sun setting create? Watch the orb melt into the sea. A day is done, but it is starting somewhere else. A timeless cycle of the earth and sun. Witnessed by billions over eons. But in 2020 screw the contemplation, hold the phone and get me in it so I can Snapchat it and post it on Instagram. Look! There is Julia and Greg on Broadway! There they are at the Statute of Liberty! There is Jessica and Harry at the Eiffel Tower! And there they are eating sushi on the Seine. They are having such a better life than me.
What does it smell like on the wharf at the small town in Maine when the lobster boats come in? What does the warmth of a ray of sun feel like at the Uffizi in Florence as it streams through a window and highlights a painting? Selfies don't capture the senses; the pursuit of the selfie diminishes the experience- it reduces it to a Disney Album. Standing in front of the castle, a picture with Goofy. $99.95 please and have a Mickey Mouse day.
Quarantining with Zoom and the ability to use filters hasn't diminished the urge to post the selfie. Look!- There is the lawyer arguing a case on Zoom with Tokyo at night in the background. And look! There is the lawyer at that new restaurant sitting and smiling in front of a bowl of pasta with truffles. One lawyer was reduced to stating the obvious-he was a person and not a cat despite what his computer showed.
We are all desperate to get out. With two shots of Pfizer on board, we are ready to venture back to court, to eating outside, to kayaking the Rainbow river in Florida and the Perfume River in Vietnam. And when we do these things you can be sure of this- there will be no selfies of us to post on the blog. We will revel in the experience, meditate and lets our senses be fulfilled, and then with a memory better than a selfie, we shall move on.
Put that camera phone away and enjoy the moment.