Life Through 3 Inches of Glass

We all do it—compulsively whip out our camera phones at any given moment to document photos and videos of anything and everything. We do it to preserve the memory. Or maybe, we do it so everyone on Twitter, Facebook, Vine, and Instagram can see that we’re actually outside of our house being social. Are smartphones, and all of the technology at our fingertips, causing us to lose sight of what’s really important?

Recently, at a Yeah Yeah Yeah’s concert, the indie rock band posted signs throughout their venue, warning audience members:

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The band had noticed the excessive use of phones during their concerts; people would hold up their iPhones the entire duration of the concert, trying to get the perfect angle of the band playing their favorite song captured on video, when really all they were accomplishing was watching the concert through a three-inch glass screen. It’s like viewers, after paying however large a sum to purchase a ticket, made a conscious decision to watch the concert, which was happening live just ten feet away from them, through an incredibly worse-quality medium, just to be able to show their friends or watch it again later, instead of appreciating the moment while it was there. Ask yourself a few questions, “was it worth annoying everyone else behind you? Has it made your life better? Will you ever look at it again?” I know my phone is chock full of snippets from BC’s Lupe Fiasco concert this past fall, but when I go back to watch my videos, I just see a blurry Conte stage and all I can hear is my own voice attempting (and failing) to sing made-up lyrics to a song I am pretending to know. Are videos like those really the “memories” we are trying to preserve? It’s hard for me to believe, but it is entirely possible to be a part of a live music experience without having to document it in some way—who would’ve thought?

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Our emphasis on social media not only in class, but also the important role it has played in current events of the last few weeks, has certainly piqued my interest, as I’m sure it has for many of you guys as well. But all of this focus begs the question, are technology and our social media outlets altering our lives so much that we forget to appreciate what’s really important? What really is social media?

“…more about an evolution than a revolution…” –Professor Gerald Kane

All we can hope for is that this evolution will result in our favor. Optimistically, future innovations (i.e. Google Glass) that aim to make use of tech flow more seamlessly with life in general will prevent us from going down the destructive path our society seems to be headed down.

couple ignoring each other while one uses a smartphone



11 thoughts on “Life Through 3 Inches of Glass

  1. It is so very true that there is nothing more annoying at a concert than the person in front of you holding up their phone trying to get a video. I admit that I am a hypocrite and have unfortunately done this before myself. It is interesting that you bring up how we are losing our appreciation for life because of technology. I agree that many of the most human aspects in our lives are becoming less important because of technology. If the video Sight which we watched in class becomes anything close to reality than I will be scared for our generation and the generations to come. This post made me think of the movie Wall-E and how because humans are able to get everything from the seat they sit in they inevitably get horrible overweight to the point where they can barely walk. Although I do not think this will happen to us, I could see parallel effects happening in our lives because of the ease at which we can use technology and the seemingly amazing benefits it has. This post was very well done and a unique topic, great job.

  2. This was a great blog post, and I think this is something that pertains to so many of our lives. Talking about watching life go by through a technological device reminds me of my abroad experience. Last semester, I studied in Argentina, and my roommates took pictures of everything in sight. We would watch a tango show or a play, and they would always have their phone to record it and take pictures without truly enjoying the moment and the time we had abroad. We all also went paragliding, and each of them videotaped their experience the entire time. I was the only one who didn’t bring the camera with me, and even if I can’t look back at a video, I still vividly remember what I saw with my own eyes while I was actually up in the air not being concerned with dropping my camera or getting the best angle. I think it can be good to document things in life, and I definitely enjoy taking pictures and looking back at them, but I think it is so crucial to actually enjoy the moment and what is going on because if it is something important, you won’t need a picture/video to remember it anyways. The picture of the couple at the bottom of the post also is relevant because there have been times when I go out to dinner with my friends, and everyone is on their phones rather than having a conversation. Sometimes it is good to put the technology away, and enjoy the food/friends/concert that are right in front of you. This was a good topic, and I liked the example of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs sign.

  3. This was a really great post. As I was reading, I laughed at thinking about the numerous concert pictures I have that I rarely ever look at. You bring up so many great points. People are constantly taking time out of their day to document their activities for social media. I recently wrote a paper for my sociology class on social media. In my research for it, I read a book called Socialnomics, recommended by Professor Kane. The book talked about how social networks have promoted the concept of bragging. People constantly post pictures and statuses in an effort to show people that they are doing amazingly fun and great things with their lives. Social media makes it really easy to compare everyone’s activity to one another. People see a picture or read a post and want to aspire to do something even cooler to contribute. There is definitely a double-edged sword to this. Its a good thing because people compare themselves to others and try to improve, but it is bad because as you said, people are taking time out of living in the moment in order to try to share it later. Your use of examples throughout this post made the content so relevant. It was really interesting to read.

  4. I do believe that technology can detract from human experience. I think you nailed it with the concert example. The fact of the matter is, its not worth it to take a concert video because they are always such low quality that you may as well enjoy the show first hand. Similarly, it is not uncommon for my friends and I to be hanging out while we’re all on our phone. It kind of questions the point of being with people if everyone is on their phone.
    i do, however, love looking at pictures. Sometimes it is just as fun to relive moments with friends as it is to experience them the first time. Its fun to have documentation of shared experiences. Especially when it is so easy and quick to take pictures, why not? Perhaps we should be less trigger happy, but I’m a fan of using our iPhones.

  5. I think it is absolutely true that technology has made us appreciate life and what’s around us less. I don’t know how many times I’ve seen a group of friends together that are all looking down at their phones with no social interaction between them. People get so wrapped in social media and their phones that they miss a lot of what’s around them. Like the concert example in the blog, I never understood why people would take videos that they would watch later instead of truly enjoying the moment of a concert there. This brings up again the concept of the double edged sword of technology, and how this social media has positives and negatives. I believe the positives outweigh the negatives, but people should try to limit social media in their life to an extent. This was a well written and very interesting blog post.

  6. First of all, the poll was cool. I had no idea that you could do this and it was a cool addition to the blog. I went to a couple concerts last year, including Bruce Springsteen and Dave Matthews Band, and I also noticed many people doing this. Also, there are tons of videos of live shows on YouTube that people videotaped at the concert. I completely agree that it is dumb to pay upwards of $100 to go to a concert and then sit there and watch it through your small cellphone. Enjoy the moment and stop trying to worry about looking back on it in the future. Our generation has a lot of difficulty with this because everyone is obsessed with having concrete evidence that you went and can show to friends. Just have fun at the concert!

  7. Good post. I completely agree with what you and others in the previous comments have said. It seems like a waste to go to a concert and then just stand their and take videos on your phone instead of actually enjoying the concert. Our generation needs to learn to put down our cameras and phones and just enjoy things likes concerts instead of trying to preserve the memory forever on our phone. If you just go to the concert and take everything in then you will remember it and have better memories than if you didn’t pay attention at all because you were concentrating on getting a good video.

  8. I think this blog post definitely pertains to what we have learned this entire 2nd half of the semester. Every subject we touched upon mentioned how tchnology affected the way someone did this, or the way this firm did that. Well, all that applies to humans to and the way we go about our lives. Nothing is hidden anymore, you can’t hope to do anything worth noting without everyone being able to access it nigh-immediately. I completely agree with people being too focused on saving memories for later rather than just focusing on the feelings and emotions the experience gives you when you are ACTUALLY experiencing it. Think of the way our parents lived and went to concerts or shows. They lived, not watched.

  9. This is a great blog post! You bring up some great points by asking questions like why are we living our life through a three inch glass screen? What benefit do we get from that? I ask myself the same questions. Though social media has many beneficial uses is it necessary to sometimes take a step away from the gadgets and experience what is going on right in front of us. You made great use of the example from the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s concert. Though flattered by the number of fans taking videos, if I was an artist I would also want the viewers to experience the live concert rather than watch them get caught up in recording it.

    I also often wonder how much more work was accomplished when today’s form of social media was non-existent. When my dad went to BC he would spend hours studying in Bapst with no distractions because he did not have a computer or cell phone with him. Now when I head to the library it is more difficult to put aside distractions with technology at my fingertips. It is necessary sometimes to step back and realize how ever-present social media is in our lives. This post brings up the double-edged sword as always and teaches us that we need to continue to balance our use of technology.

  10. Great blog post, and it was very well written about a prevalent topic in today’s society. I remember looking around during the Macklemore concert on Thursday and noticed that many people were succumbing to this same problem of staring at the screens on their phone rather than watching the concert that was going on right in front of them. Although photos and videos are great keepsakes, they will never allow one to relive the memories of being there in person. Throughout this article, I kept thinking about Google Glass and how it will allow one to take photos, videos, and even surf the web without impeding on one’s entire vision or the ability to use their hands, and I thought it was important for you to include you the new device at the end of you blog. Similar to your conclusion and to Ned’s comment above about Wall-E and the movie’s prediction for humanity, it will be interesting to see how this dilemma plays out.

  11. Great blog post! Your question sounded like something my mom would ask me. Nevertheless, I think it is true. This concert example is incredibly accurate to show how we miss important things in life just because of technology. Another example is when we are sitting in a table and, instead of listening to what the people in the table have to say, we text and focus on what is happening on our phone. Nevertheless, I also have to admit that technology has also helped me to experience things I wouldn’t otherwise be able to. For example, every Sunday, I eat with my family thanks to Skype. I also text them everyday and I am also able to see my friends everyday thanks to Snapchat. Thus, even though technology sometimes creates a separation, other times it is able to shorten distances.

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