Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Writing Prompt: The Difference

Writing Prompt #717

The first thing I thought when looking at these two photographs was honestly, “More people were wearing white in 2005.” I didn’t miss the tablet in the foreground of the 2013 picture, but the thousand or so smartphones in the background just slipped my notice.
Maybe it’s like how grandparents notice the difference in growth in their grandchildren while the kids’ parents hardly ever do: if you’re right there every second while they’re transitioning into something new, it’s harder to notice a difference.
The two pictures are the same: people standing in a crowd. Probably every single person in that crowd in 2005 had a cell phone in their pocket, it just wasn’t equipped at that time to video the proceedings and share them with everyone else in the world over the internet at that very second.
People today experience every event differently than they used to. In 2005, while eating dinner after my shift in the employee dining room at Ticos, it would never have entered my mind to snap a picture with my phone and send it in a message to all my friends, “YOU ARE JEALOUS OF MY TIACO.” There are some people today who take a picture of everything they eat and share it with the rest of the world. The New York Times and ABC News have both reported on this phenomenon, and restaurant owners’ desire to get their patrons to stop. I can imagine that it drives them absolutely nuts to have an amateur photo shoot going on in their dining room any time they are open for business.
While the idea of being able to share your life with the world would appeal to some, it makes others of us uncomfortable. Maybe it’s an extrovert/introvert thing. My life is my life, and I like to keep it private. I don’t let anyone but my friends see what I post on my facebook and Google+ accounts, and every friend is someone I have met in person and am actually friends with (or have been friends with in the past). I am not someone who wants to share every minute detail of their life with complete strangers. Maybe if I were someone who felt alive in the spotlight, who thrived on the attention of others, I would be really excited about having a smart phone so that I could snap a picture of my toenails every time I painted them a different color. And I would get six billion twitter followers and be the most popular girl in school.
I feel like a lot of the people who are social media obsessed forget about the fact that there are actual people to interact with who are sitting right next to them, in person. It seems to me that many people are more concerned about how many friends they have on facebook than how many friends they have who would sit down and have a long conversation about nothing with them.
An alien who last visited earth in 2005 wouldn’t recognize those of us in 2013. And it wouldn’t just be because “last time I saw you you were only this big; you’ve grown so much!” We’d be so involved in taking a picture of the spaceship and sharing it with our twitter followers that we would miss the interaction entirely.

(Apparently, these are not two pictures of the same event after all. The one from 2005 was at the funeral of Pope John Paul II, while the one from 2013 was at the announcement of Pope Francis' election. In the picture below, one taken at the announcement of Pope Benedict XVI in 2005, you can see tons of cameras and a dude with a camcorder. But my opinions on social media still stand. These people cheering in 2005 wanted to document the event to remember it themselves. Those in 2013 may have been doing the same, but in 2005 there was a greater chance of those pictures being shown to someone else in person instead of just posted on instagram.)
Announcement of Pope Benedict XVI in 2005

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