When Conan O’Brien told people watching the 2013 White House Correspondent’s Dinner from home to live-tweet the event using hashtag: #incapableoflivinginthemoment, it stung.
It stung because I was at home, live-tweeting the event. Nonetheless, I thought his directive was a good one, and used the long hashtag every chance I got. The next day, I pulled up snippets of the #WHCD on YouTube for a friend to watch. I got a chance to catch the jokes and moments I’d missed because, you know, I was live-tweeting.
It’s true. Social media and the Internet have taken over our lives. I too am guilty of being Internet-dependent. But I make myself feel better about my Internet addiction by taking 1-3 day technology-free sabbaticals here and there and putting my gadgets away or face down during dinner (my dinner mates rarely reciprocate the gesture). And I guess because I’m not exactly a digital native – I grew up using typewriters, word processors and pagers – I am still appalled at some people’s inability to disconnect no matter what.
This vent isn’t random. Here’s my story.
A couple of weeks ago, I attended a wedding.
The last wedding I attended prior to this took place before social media took over our lives. To sum my experience up I’ll say: “Things ain’t what they used to be, no.” I used to live for weddings. I’d come ready to cry, laugh and celebrate. Some were weddings of close friends and family, some were friends of friends of friends who I barely knew. It didn’t matter. I loved them all equally. I was always touched by the happiness and emotion present at these events. People arrived early for a prime seat – right on the aisle – so they could see the bride walk to the altar. The bride and groom had that happy look in their eyes. When it was over, we’d tell (not tweet) our friends and family who weren’t there all about it. Today, it’s a different story. While I’m sure that all weddings are not created equal, until I attend another one to prove me wrong, I’ll stick to my theory that even at an event as special as a wedding, we are #incapableoflivinginthemoment.
At this wedding, the first sightings of the picture and videos devices happened as the bride and bridal party came down the aisle. People wanted to capture the moment. That was pretty normal.
The second sighting happened during the ceremony. One of the groomsmen decided to capture a video of the event unfolding before him because…I guess the videographer and photographers who were paid to document the event wouldn’t produce a good enough videos and images. Since he did it, others in the bridal party figured they could, too. I’m not sure where the ladies had stored their devices, but soon there were videos being recorded by both bridesmaids and groomsmen, while the pastor did his thing. They held their gadgets up through the end of the ceremony.
During the vows, the groom referenced to Twitter. It was cute. “Thank God this isn’t Twitter,” he said. “Because 140 characters would not be enough for me to explain how much I love you.” I was cute, and as a twitter-head I totally understood the essence of what he meant. But the old woman inside of me cringed a little. The youngsters laughed, but no one else got it.
Then there was the reception, and the selfies that came with it. As the bride and groom worked the room, thanking everyone for attending, people clamored for a chance at a made-for-Instagram shot with them.
No one seemed to care. It all seemed normal. But as someone who is constantly thinking about the effect of technology on human interaction, it didn’t seem normal to me.
You can’t change what’s already happened. Technology will forever be a part of everything we do. People expect it, want it, and are disappointed if you don’t include technology into every process and experience.
It is what it is, yet still I vent.
And to be perfectly honest, I participate in this movement all the time. I participated at the wedding, too. I might not have whipped my phone out to record the wedding procession, but before I left the church I was dead set on blogging about it. Instead of getting lost in the moment of the wedding, I was crafting paragraphs in my mind, proving yet again, that we are all for the most part – #incapableoflivinginthemoment.