Sunday, June 10, 2012

Technological Hyper-reliance And Second-hand Experiences

I'm writing this post because a certain trend has come to my attention, which is no way new or unexpected, but the repercussions of which are truly staggering. We, as humans, have this amazing tendency to abuse whatever privileges we manage to provide for ourselves; various forms of energy, all sorts of ingenious inventions, but no privilege has been more widespread in its disastrous effects on the human race than the exponential growth in technological advancements, and especially the internet.

Consider your life right now; you spend your day connected to the internet, browsing a massive amount of websites, reading, watching videos, checking in to your favorite coffee shop (then whining about how everyone now gets their coffee there and you have to stand in a queue for half an hour...God, those troglodytes!), then you see something nice and you decide to take a photo and maybe share it on Twitter or Instagram, and maybe then you'll record a video of your favorite underground artist during that concert you attend later today, and...

...okay, stop, look at what you're doing here.

See, I have nothing against technology at all. We wouldn't be where we are right now without the amorphous beast that is the Internet, and advancements in tech save lives on a daily basis, so I'm definitely not decrying the fact that we're making progress. I'm just surprised at our tendency to transform our lives into a series of second-hand experiences.

Allow me to explain. Nowadays, when you're looking at something nice in the street, you probably are seeing it through the lens of your phone's camera (or your very own, state-of-the-art DSLR that all your friends secretly crave, and which you're pretty much regretting buying in the first place) instead of just using your very own eyes. You attend a concert, looking through the minuscule viewfinder of your camera, trying not to shake the damn thing too much during the performance. Then you go home and watch the video, and you feel particularly vacuous. You feel nothing.

Why? Because your experience was entirely second-hand. Your unquenchable desire to obtain things which you can share with the world (or at least, the massively large portion of it connected to the internet) got in the way, and thus you - and them - managed to get a shaky video with terrible audio of the artist you admire so much. Well done.

It's so very silly, how we keep doing that, and then we start wondering why we're becoming more forgetful. How can you expect to remember something that you half-experienced, especially when you know that you can get back to it simply by revisiting that photo, video or audio recording. But the problem is that those things might capture how something looked or sounded, but they cannot capture how you felt, and no matter how hard you try, you cannot recapture something that you paid no heed to in the first place. And that's why you keep finding all those nitpicks with the photo or video you once thought was perfect. It doesn't feel the same, you think. It's not the same thing.

Well, yes, because you're the one who managed to alter it, from a personal memory to an digital, soon-to-be-forgotten souvenir.

So, just...make sure your own memory is a bit richer than your phone's or your camera's. That's all I'm asking.



  1. oh man - just last month i had to yank my friend's phone away from her during an RHCP concert. ridiculous.

    P.S. i'm your 2500th view woo.

    1. Hahaha! It's funny that I'm the one arguing this, seeing as I usually try to record audio during concerts here. :D But still, better late than never!

      2500th viewer WOO!