Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Life Through a Lens

While sitting and watching 4th of July fireworks this weekend, I noticed how many people were recording the show with various devices. iPhones, iPads, Androids, Samsungs, tablets and a million other hand held pieces that I don't even know the name of. As I was watching, like I thought most people do, I realized I was one of the few who didn't have a recording of the display. The worst part was the crowd of kids....young kids....sitting on the front row watching the entire night through their phones or tablets. What happened to enjoying the moments in life as they happen?? I am a huge fan of documenting moments with photos, but I really don't understand the need to record every moment of a fireworks display or a concert. The same thing happened recently at a concert. People were recording the entire show on their tablets instead of watching what was happening right in front of them. Why come to the concert if you are going to watch on a screen? Is it for posting on the internet or social media sites? Is this what the internet has done to us? We feel the need to record everything in order to post it or share it or edit it in a creative way like no one else has before?

This is another fear I have about raising children in the world we live in today. Kids are getting iPhones younger and younger and they aren't playing outside. I remember playing kickball, capture the flag, tag, soccer, softball and riding bikes until I couldn't pedal any longer. We would build forts and lemonade stands on hot summer days. The only time I was inside was if it was raining and even then we would use our creativity to find something fun to do. Technology wasn't a part of my daily life. Of course I am saying this on a blog and I am so guilty of using social media and playing candy crush on a daily basis! But, I want my kids to have a childhood like I did. I want them to play and experience life as it happens, not through a camera on a computer.  I want them to build real forts and sell real lemonade, not virtually against other people on the internet.

What comes next? As soon as I think technology can't get any better, something new comes out. Will I be expected to give my child a phone when they can talk? Or at that point something better like a flying barbie car with bluetooth? When do we go back to just playing outside and coming home when the street lights come on? That's what I remember about my childhood and I don't need videos of it all to have great memories. I know it will be our job to set boundaries and to decide what is right for our children when they reach that age.

I guess my ultimate question in this post is about drawing boundaries. How do you decide what to allow and when to allow it when it comes to technology? What do you do when your children have friends who have access to information on the internet that you don't want your kids to see? Where do you draw the line and how do we get back to enjoying life in the moment?


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  2. Very thoughtful piece, Payton. One might wonder whether this whole phenomenon of viewing life through a digital prism is, at least in part, symptomatic of American culture’s tendency to avoid reality.

    After all, as Jack Nicholson’s character once said, collectively, as a people, we can’t handle the truth.
    As for me, I am even more troubled by our nation’s responses to events like the Boston bombing. I was born in Boston and have lived near it my entire life. I am entirely quintessencial New England in my blood, to be certain. So, no one can accuse me of being “anti-Boston Strong.”

    But, “Boston Strong”?


    To me, it unfortunately became little more than an instant sound-bitten cliché. And when it started to get somehow intertwined with our professional sports teams soon thereafter, as for me, that is when Jack Nicholson’s warning started to rear its ugly head yet again.

    I fear that we have now deviated so far from our national reality, our compass, our truly unique and blessed historical legacy, our sense of civic virtue and our togetherness, that now we cannot even endure an attack like the Marathon bombing without reducing it to our new virtual “reality.”

    One of my closest childhood friends was killed on a beautiful, clear day in September 2001. And ever since, as for me I have little space for such prisms in my life anymore.

    And don’t get me wrong: I say all this as a lifelong avid Boston sports fan to the core.

    But we should be better than all this. We are so fortunate to live in the shadow of undeniably towering Americans here in Boston. We live on the hallowed ground of the first American patriots. Their reaction to events like the Boston Massacre, the passage of the Intolerable Acts, the quartering of British soldiers in our homes, the Writs of Assistance, etc. was not one of looking through some prism in order to escape harsh reality. Nor was it one that gave rise to empty slogans, used to rally us not to action, but to mere empty feel-goodism.

    I am confident I shall not make any new friends by what I have just said. And that is fine.

    But as for me, I would far prefer to see Americans, Bostonians, out on the streets in protest, demanding of their elected officials to do better than to allow folks into our nation other countries have warned us harbor terroristic tendencies toward us. I would rather see us vote in percentages far higher than a vigorously embarrassing twenty percent, for that matter.

    I would, in short, far prefer seeing that type of “Boston Strong” than the kind that is to be found printed on Bruins t-shirts or held up on cardboard placard at the latest Red Sox game.

    So, perhaps, the prisms of which you so eloquently speak are to be found both in digital and non-digital formats nowadays?

    Be strong and keep up the insightful writing, Peyton. Hope we can stay in touch.


    1. PS- I apologize for misspelling your name initially !!