Lost in the InstaFeed

After a week off at camp, I am ecstatic to be back writing. As much as I love working with students, I think if I spent any longer with them, I would have a conniption.

In case you forgot, July 4th, or Independence Day was yesterday. For the past week, and still for another few days, cities, families, and other parties will be putting on their own fireworks shows and doing exactly what the Founding Fathers intended when they wrote the Declaration of Independence: blowing things up.

Last night, I had the privilege of going to a church’s community cookout where around 125 people were served burgers, dogs, and all that sort of thing. Afterward, a group of us piddled at a friend’s “cottage,” as he called it, where I entered a food coma, for about an hour until the city’s fireworks display.

This “ode to freedom” took place on the football field, where hundreds of people gathered to watch creative explosions of gunpowder. After a short wait, they began the show, lighting up the small-town skyline with hues of blue, red, green, violet, and many others.

I looked over to my dismay and saw a few young uns with their phones in the air, snapping stills of the explosions. I had to, with everything in me, to withhold my laughter so as to not embarrass them, thought they deserved it. On the way home, I pondered why it was that that bothered me so much.

Simply watching the fireworks wasn’t enough, they needed to prove they were there by posting it to some social media website.

The moment was not enough. 

Last summer, I went to California for a trip, and I have written about it multiple times already, but some of my friends have asked me why I did not take pictures of the sights, the many gorgeous sights at our destination and along our trip. I always reply – some things need to be experienced, they don’t need to be photographed. So, if you’re a personal friend of mine and you don’t ever see pictures of my trips, that’s why.

Some things must be experienced.

Relient K recently put out a song, “Look On Up.” The premise of the song says what I just said in fewer, more melodic, and better words. So many times people get caught up in capturing the moment instead of living it.

Our brains have a knack for memory, if you didn’t know memory is one of its jobs. When we focus on taking a picture of the sight, instead of simply seeing it, we divide our focus and our brains do not process that very well. I don’t want to remember the shot, I want to remember the sight.

July 4th has so much to remember. Some of my greatest memories as a child were these massive parties thrown around burgers, some other smoked meat, a pool, football, shenanigans, and a fireworks show to wrap up the night. I fondly remember those days and would not trade them for any amount of pictures to memorialize them. Pictures serve a purpose, but they can never replace a memory undisturbed by the worry of trying to save it for later.

So many things have happened in my life, I am thankful I got out of the way and simply enjoyed them. Seeing the massive trees in California, the Grand Canyon, the wide expanses of Texas, and last night’s excellent fireworks display – all included on a list of things I am glad I personally witnessed, not personally photographed.

Instead of worrying about cluttering your Insta Feed with countless photographs of a breathtaking sight, take in the sight, live it, enjoy the moment. Someday, you’ll be worried about taking a picture of something you may never get back. Enjoy it, live it, breathe in the few beautiful moments we get in our lifetime, for they are treasures to be experienced, not photographed.

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