One of the rituals of family gatherings is the group photo. Parents wrangle the young ones into standing still and making a normal expression (real smiles, please) just long enough for Aunt Betty to click the shutter. Another entry for the family album.
A generation ago, camera and film (google it) makers put considerable effort into making sure we didn’t forget to capture those memories.
Nobody needs reminding anymore.
With digital cameras built into almost everything we carry, taking pictures has become an integral part of every moment of our lives from weddings to lunch. Anytime anything interesting happens anywhere in the developed world, there’s a pretty good chance it will be Snapchatted, posted or live-streamed within 35 seconds.
All of this has offered us opportunities to stay in touch with distant friends and loved ones and to share our experiences in ways unimaginable just a few years ago. But has it always changed those experiences for the better?
Throughout the holiday season, many of us will be visiting with important people in our lives that we don’t get to see every day. Sometimes, that can seem like an obligation or a cause for stress. But if these truly are the moments we’ll remember – the first time meeting a new nephew or niece, sharing a big family announcement, or even the last Christmas with a beloved aunt – should it really be splitting our attention with somebody’s hot take on the place setting?
This year let’s ask ourselves … before we reach for the phone for the second or third time … are we having this experience or are we documenting it?
The memories will be more vivid and the experience more gratifying if we give the gift our loved ones really want: Our presence.