Pope Francis came through my hometown of Philadelphia this weekend on his final stop in his first trip visit to America. It was sensational, full of moments I will never forget even though I was 20 miles away watching on television.
For the people who there, absorbing His Holiness’ presence first-hand, it must have been even more awe-inspiring. What a story to tell! “I got to see Pope Francis — in person!”
That is exactly what the news stations continued to talk about, as well. ‘What a story they’ll be able to tell.’ It would have been enough to stop there. Anyone watching understood that to be the case. How often does a dignitary such as the Pope come to town? Of COURSE it’ll be a great story!
But they continued.
‘What a story they’ll be able to tell…as they take pictures and videos of the Pope going by with their smartphones.’
The Pontiff might as well as have been waving to Apple’s newest iPhone 6s, considering he probably saw just as many flashes as he did faces.
Capturing The Moment That You’re Actively Ignoring
It kind of irked me a bit. It’s not the first time I’ve felt this way, nor am I free-guilt from this behavior. But still I thought, ‘Why is that our first instinct anymore is to take out our phones when something cool is going on?’ As good as our phones are they’re still not the same as a your own two eyes when it comes to capturing the moment.
And then I saw this photo on Facebook.
Look at her face.
Does she look as if she’s not soaking everything up? That she is not solely focused on being present in the moment? Will she not have a story to tell just because she looked at the Pope with her eyes…and not a camera phone?
Pics Or It Didn’t Happen
Admittedly, that phrase is one of my favorite internet things. We love getting the chance to see inside someone else’s world visually. It gives us physical context of that person’s surroundings and how they’re interacting within their reality.
But think about the Pope’s visit to America. It began on a Tuesday and ended on a Sunday. He visited 3 cities, saw millions, and met thousands of people. It all went by in an instant.
And yet he will never forget his experience. His version of story is not cheapened because he didn’t take selfies with student’s from St. Joseph’s University or with an awestruck John Boehner. The stories he can tell will be just as rich as anyone else’s, if not more so.
The woman in the photo is locked in. Her perspective is different from any other individual’s would be in that entire section of humanity. She has a experienced a lot more life than many of the people next to her and maybe that is what we should focus on.
What Does She Know That We’ve Brushed Aside?
Speed kills. Instant gratification. #20Likes. We yearn for recognition. We want to be loved.
She wants the same thing, I would imagine. The difference for her, versus my 15 year old brother, is that her first reaction (behavior) is not to reach for her cellphone but simply to enjoy.
When was the last time you experienced something transcendent where you saw before you shared?
How should we proceed in today’s world?
Is there a right answer?
With Your Own Eyes
This past March I went to California for the first time in my life as part of trip to Social Media Marketing World. I was lucky enough to spend my first 3 days in La Jolla, CA with my best friend from home who is living there for school. On my second day in the city, he brought me to Torrey Pines State Preserve. He didn’t spoil the surprise for me, and boy am I glad he didn’t.
Upon arrival, I don’t think I spoke a word for 10 minutes. I had never seen anything like it. I stared around me for what seemed like forever. It was remarkable. All I kept thinking was, ‘I wish my fiancé was here to see this with me’. It wasn’t until after I had gotten my initial fill that I decided it was time to start snapping photos with my phone.
The Friday night of the Pope’s arrival, my fiancé and I were at our friends’ wedding. It took place on a local farm where they met (adorbs), under a row of apple trees in a setting that befitting a Mark Twain novel. It was lovely.
I’d show you the photos but they didn’t turn out very well.
Besides, I only took one photo during the ceremony and one photo with my fiancé’s phone. No selfies. No snaps. My phone was actually turned off for a good portion of the night.
Even though I am a Social Media Manager I am not the most aggressive sharer in the world. I am very reserved in most things and self-promotion certainly falls into that category. It’s rare that I take photographs of anything, let alone myself (my professional peers might call this a missed opportunity).
Anyway, I was enjoying the moment with friends, new and old, over good drinks and better company. Really, I could show you the pictures, but…
We bring everyone with us everywhere we go. It is a blessing and a curse.
Like Don Draper said in his famous pitch, photographs are a time machine; granting you permission to reopen the moments you’ve already lived in full color. But sometimes, might it just better to share those experiences with people you really care about? To keep it exclusively for you, them, and anyone else you deem worthy of listening and appreciating?
And maybe that is the word I’ve been building towards all along. Appreciation.
The world we experience is so fast and so throw-away. We move through our News Feeds with such detachment that it’s a wonder we ever see anything, hoping the next ‘thing’ satisfies us.
Perhaps this is why Humans of New York is damn successful. Brandon Stanton struck a chord with the population simply by stopping, listening, digesting, and framing the world around him. His worked has is showing us why we need to appreciate the people around us.
After all, I’m pretty sure that is one of the many wonderful messages Pope Francis brings to us, too. Appreciate the world around you.
I’m not saying we need to stop sharing, because it’s not going to happen. But adding more filters to our lives isn’t terrible thing, either. Scarcity creates demand. Absence makes the heart grow fonder.
Back to woman in in the crowd. Funny thing is, I wish she had shared her story with us. She has a unique perspective on what see saw in Philadelphia on Saturday; a story we can’t immediately know.
And that is what makes her fascinating, among other things.
Penny for your thoughts, miss?