Living in the moment is one of the biggest challenges for most people today. Often there’s so much meaningless noise surrounding people’s lives that it manifests itself in the idea of being ‘busy.’ People justify not living in the moment, through an endless search for meaning somewhere in the future. “What am I doing later today? What am I doing tomorrow? What am I doing on the third Saturday in June next year?” The questions roll on and on and the moment is lost.
The advent of social media has only helped douse this problem with a super-charged accelerant, thus adding to the deafening and pointless noise in everyone's lives. Seriously people, nobody really cares what you had for breakfast!
This noisy meaningless activity and ease of access to cameras on devices has added another element to the way in which people are living their lives through deferment and missing some wonderful experiences along the way. The way so many people do this now is through snapping or recording moments and sharing them online with countless people they don't know.
People are becoming increasingly addicted to the internet to fill a void in their lives. It’s like trying to ‘Keep up with the Joneses’ but on steroids! I was at an Easter celebration earlier in the year and this culminated in two big events. The town in which I live on the NSW South Coast has an annual Easter parade. The Year 10 girls from the local high school have the opportunity to go in what's called the Blessing of the Fleet and one of them is crowned the princess each year.
The Blessing of the Fleet itself is an annual Christian ceremony conducted by the local Catholic Priest under the careful watch of St. Peter, patron saint of fishermen, to ensure the safe passage and return for the local fishing fleet. It’s a fun, colourful event in which local businesses and community groups create themed floats to transport the princesses along the main street and down to the harbour.
Every year, the floats are built using movie, music and popular literature themes, basically pirates, musicals and all things Disney. The floats and costumes are amazing, often with months of phenomenal planning design and construction going into them.
It's a great cavalcade and a special day for the community. However, as the parade rolled by, I noticed countless people in the crowd, all with their phones out recording it and this is the bit I don't understand. They’re actually missing the experience of the parade. Instead of living in the movement and experiencing the parade in front of them, they’re seeing everything through the lens of the camera, ironically capturing a moment they've just missed.
That evening, following the celebrations, there was a firework display on at the harbour. It's always a great night. The fireworks are shot off from along the breakwall, each explosion reflected in the water and glistening brightly.
Taking photos of fireworks going off can be spectacular, but that kinda missed the whole point of being there. I've watched NYE fireworks on TV and it's never ever the same as actually being there. That burst of light when the colors explode in front of you. The noise and concussion of the blast and the smell of the gunpowder can never be replicated on a tv, a screen, a device, or anything. Fireworks have to be experienced in the moment, right there, right then! It’s the anticipation when you hear the dull thud of the shell fired off, watch it jet up into the air before exploding into a myriad of colors followed by the boom and smell of burning gunpowder.
It’s all these cool parts which combine together and make it amazing. However, once again, people were sitting there filming everything and viewing it through the tiny screen of their phones. What's the point in that? They've just turned a great experience into nothing more than another pointless moment deferred to be watched, or not, at some point in the future.
I often wonder who actually sits down and watches fireworks like that after the event? There are thousands of hours of video footage uploaded to YouTube every single day. Yet who’s watching this nonsense? I don’t want to watch fireworks on a computer screen. I want to experience it in the moment. I want that real, shared experience that can't be replicated by any network, website or device. This comes back to my point about living in the moment. Some people go to great lengths to show others what they're doing, at the cost of living in and experiencing that moment themselves.
Whilst I can't do justice to fireworks displayed that night, every shell that went up exploded in a beautiful rainbow of colors. The burning magnesium lit up the night sky and the finale culminated in one of the most amazing endings I’ve ever experienced. It was so cool! You could feel it building. The number of shells being fired into the air increased rapidly. They got faster and faster. Suddenly the sky erupted in colour and concluded with a massive boom. All went silent. The crowd erupted with united applause!
As I said, I can't do justice to the experience. You really just had to be there, but that's pretty much the point. These moments can’t be replicated in word, thought or on screen. These moments can't be shared with people who weren’t actually there. Most of all, I can't truly convey how much I enjoyed the experience. Since you weren’t with me, you can't understand how that moment felt.
The reality is that people are losing their ability to live in the moment. Their lives are so crowded with the noise of the world, they miss special moments such as the parade and fireworks displays. So, it’s important to put the phone away, to forget about sharing what's going on with people who aren’t there, because they will never really understand or appreciate the experience unless they live it themselves. Instead, tune out from the meaningless noise of the world and share the moment with those around you.