Every now and then I’ll come across a comment or reference about a culture that doesn’t like to have photographs taken of them, because they are afraid that capturing that image will steal their souls.
I think they may have a point.
That idea came into focus during a fat bike ride along the Kenai beach a few weeks ago. It was one of those days with overcast skies, but the sun was so low on the horizon that it was shining below the edge of the clouds. The sun was reflecting off Mount Redoubt across the inlet, and as I was riding along, I thought that if I had had a camera with me, I would’ve stopped to take a photo and share it with everyone on social media.
My next thought, though, was that rather than worrying about sharing that moment with everyone else on the planet, I should simply be appreciating it myself.
And I guess that’s what I interpret to be a stolen soul — I was so worried about capturing the moment to share with everyone else, I missed out on the experience of being there.
My brother, who is a little younger and probably a lot hipper than me, once commented that he’d go to events with friends who would record the whole thing on some sort of device, all the while saying that they couldn’t wait to get home and check out their video. I used to think that would never be me — right up to that moment on the beach with my fat bike.
Perhaps the most ironic part of that whole experience was that I took up cycling as a way to unplug and clear my head for an hour or two at a time.
Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or whatever else is out there. I have no problem being sucked into a good social media feed. There are some people with very engaging, entertaining pages out there.
I enjoy seeing posts from friends and family, and I like to share my adventures and accomplishments. There might be a little showing off involved, too.
And contrary to popular belief — and though I may be the last person on Earth without a camera built into my cell phone — I’m not a Luddite. I was recently talking to some high school students about the changes in media since I started working at newspapers 20 years ago — that whole Internet fad, for example. I never envisioned the technology we now have available to document the human experience when I first started out. But I’ve embraced those changes — kicking and screaming at times, but I’ve tried new things nonetheless.
I just find that there are some experiences that technology doesn’t enhance.
For that matter, my feelings are somewhat hypocritical. After all, the newspaper column is the original blog. Some of you might be reading this on line — please feel free to “like” it and share with your friends.
So yes, there’s a time and a place for everything, including the photo for the Facebook page. Indeed, human beings have been chronicling our experiences using images from the time we started drawing on cave walls.
I’ll just try to make sure I’m focused on that specific time and place, because that’s what makes those moments worth sharing.
Reach Clarion editor Will Morrow at email@example.com.