I tire of those memes that show up talking about how we’re all addicted to phones and so we’re not actually paying attention to the world around us. Looking at our phones does not mean we’re not engaging in the world. Maybe Jason and I will both look at something on our phones together while out on a date, some interest that we both want to research and discuss. Maybe we chat to each other via text while on different floors of the house because we’re both multitasking in order to make time for a movie or a game with the kids later on. Maybe my friends and I are all looking up pictures of our pets to share, or funny comics about a mutual book we love and want to share with each other. Staring at a phone does not equal not paying attention or not engaging. It’s just a tool for a different form of engagement.
Same goes for taking photos and videos. I love that my phone has a great camera on it. I’ve always been a photo-oriented picture. Long before digital photos were a thing, I managed to take 25 rolls of film’s worth of photos while on a six-week study abroad program. Did I always have my camera on hand, often staring through a screen at the things around me? Sure! Does that mean I experienced the trip less? Hell. No. In fact, having roughly 600 photos from that trip reminds me of all the things that I would have forgotten without the physical reminder. And now, with a digital camera phone, I can take as many pictures as I want without worrying about wasting film and having to develop the photos. I have thousands of memories to call up in clear detail at the touch of a button, and that is a lovely thing.
Back in 2013, I scanned and digitized all my physical photos. It was a massive project that took months and – again – was totally worth it. I set my photo library to be my screensaver and to have my favorite pictures rotate on my desktop. In 2015, I KonMari-ed my digital photo collection, paring it down to 6000 or so. (Think that’s a lot? I started around 15,000. Conservative estimate.) And this fall, I’ve launched another photo-related project to help me (and my family) get even more enjoyment out of these thousands of memories. I uploaded the photos onto a shared icloud photo album, and set them to randomize as my TV’s screensaver. It has been so fun to see my boys’ eyes light up when they see certain pictures and to ask for the stories behind them. Guests have been entranced when over for birthday parties, dinners, and gatherings. I can’t count how many times I’ve heard the words, “Oh I remember that!”
And thus the naysayers can continue to grouch about phones and pictures and all the rest. We’ll keep our joy regardless.