“We’re seeing people on site at emergencies refusing to help,” said the CPR instructor, “because they have to capture the scene on video.”
Wow. So a guy is laying on the ground, pale-faced, not breathing, and bystanders pull out their cameras instead of trying to save his life.
Somebody else will do that. I’ve got to catch this and put it on YouTube and Facebook.
It’s not just emergencies which give rise to concern, either. I can’t count how many times I’ve witnessed an amazing scene in nature — a glorious sunset, a hawk feeding close by — and everybody around is recording it on camera.
Why not rather enjoy the gift of the moment?
I’m just as guilty, by the way. Preaching at myself here.
Here’s the problem: that little rectangle in our hands can present a massive barrier to real life.
We can get so preoccupied with recording and sharing the moments of our lives that we fail to actually be present in them.
Perhaps it’s possible to do both –take the picture and still be present — but you’d have to convince me of that one. I find that there’s a choice to be made.
Here’s the supreme irony … as a culture, we claim to value authenticity.
Really? How authentic is it to miss an opportunity for compassion or gratitude or wonder for the sake of filming and sharing?
How about if we forget the camera, and use our hands for helping, serving and praising God instead?
To be clear, I’m not anti-social media. I like beautiful photos. I don’t mind sharing what’s lovely in the world with others. We just need to be aware of what’s going on in our souls.
In John 17:15, 16, Jesus prays this for his followers:
“My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it.”
Jesus says we are in the world, not of the world, meaning we have a purpose here and we are to live our lives differently than those around us. He wants our involvement, our concern, our activity on this planet.
He wants us to be participants in his gospel plan for the world, not spectators of it.
This issue is just another exercise in swimming upstream. Our Western postmodern culture is anti-gospel at heart, as is every human culture since we left the garden of Eden.
Therefore, we must think through what we do and why we do it rather than drifting downstream in the current of culture.
Otherwise, here’s where spectator-hood can take us: we can become people who are more curious than compassionate.
We can rubber-neck our way through life, finding disease and disaster “interesting” instead of investing our hearts in what others are feeling.
We can lose our sense of wonder and joy in the special moments which are God’s gifts to us. We can convince ourselves we are relating meaningfully to our kids and grandkids, when in actuality, we’re too busy snapping pictures of them to notice what’s going on in their hearts.
We can drift farther and farther away from reality into virtual living — and not even feel it.
Sometimes authenticity is as simple as putting away the camera.
So I want to resist the temptation to record everything. I’m going to deliberately say no to the impulse more often than not.
I don’t want to miss out on my life because I’m too busy recording it.