Phones and Fireworks

The temperature was perfect that night, but I had forgotten how cool it was with so many bodies pressed up against me. There really is no such thing as personal space in a crowd. How anyone was enjoying themselves and the loud music, I have no idea.

The scene I mentioned above was not of a club, but of downtown Nashville on the 4th of July. Some friends and I braved the thousands of bodies to get a good view of the fireworks show. One person in our group said, “I would love to get on that rooftop over there,” and he indicated a bar nearby with a rooftop patio, where the crowd was less dense. I readily agreed, and we snaked our way to the door, where we had to wait in line.

Somehow we managed to get in, and finally I felt like I could shift my weight comfortably without the fear of being accused of copping a feel of whoever was closest to me. It was still crowded on the roof, but much less stressful.

Eventually the orchestra played their first notes, and sparks flew into the air. Right in the middle of our view was a pole flying the American flag, which was really neat, because, America! (or as the more obnoxious people put it, U S A! U S A!)

I couldn’t help smiling in excitement at the colorful explosions that showered us with ash and drowned out almost any other sound. As I enjoyed the display, I noticed people pulling out their phones and taking pictures of both the fireworks and the flag. It saddened me a little, as I saw the phone of the man in front of me, because the pictures it took were dark and grainy, nothing like the grandeur of the real thing.

I wondered, why are people diminishing this experience by viewing it through a camera lens? Surely the technology with which they are capturing this moment doesn’t compare to being able to see it with their own eyes?

I get that people want a token of that memory, something to look back on, something to show their friends. But in my opinion, sometimes people are so caught up in capturing a memory that they forget to create a memory. So what if you can’t show a grainy picture to your friends later? You still had the experience, and can relish the memory. And sometimes memories that you can’t share with people are more special than the ones you can.

I’m not against taking pictures – I take pictures. But many times I would rather just get lost in the moment, and enjoy the here and now before it slips away.

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