Several people within my family’s circle have lost loved ones recently. As I sat at a funeral a few days ago, something dawned on me. Many people in the baby boomer generation think of social media and phones as overused — distractions from making memories and being present.
I can agree to some of those thoughts. I often find myself mindlessly scrolling through social media like TikTok and Facebook with no reason other than entertainment. It sometimes disrupts my work when friends send a funny video and I stop to watch it. It can make me procrastinate chores or tasks, and it can very much take you out of the moments you are in.
As an avid concert-goer, I can tell you that I’ve seen many, many fellow attendees watch a concert through their phone screens while they record the entire thing. After one concert I attended, I realized a few things when looking back at some of the videos I took: I sounded awful singing — that might not be a surprise for some friends and family — and my videos were either super shaky or not well focused. It was because I was trying to watch with my eyes but hold my phone to record.
I thought about it afterwards and considered how many times I go back and watch the videos, and the answer is, not often. I might show them to friends that didn’t get to attend, or post a few on social media here and there. I want to enjoy the live music wholeheartedly and sing and dance to the music, but that doesn’t make for a good recording. So, I decided that I was no longer going to try and record so much of the concerts.
Now, if it’s a favorite song, I record maybe the first verse and first chorus, or a favorite part, or sometimes just a chorus. But I am enjoying myself for the remainder of the song. I’m singing along obnoxiously; dancing like no one is watching. By the time the concert is over, my throat is sore, my feet hurt and I am tired. But I have gotten every.single.penny’s worth out of that ticket cost.
One of my favorite artists is HARDY. He has a song called “Screen,” and it has some very good points in the song. Here are a few of the lyrics — and something that made my decision to stop recording concerts even easier:
“Take a good look out the window,
Keep it in your pocket at the rock show.
Just give it a try.
Every battery does, but your memory will never die.”
The song is about how we are so focused on screens instead of real life. And while I feel that way about many things — that we should try to be more in the moment and present with our friends and family — it hit me at the funeral that cellphones are also a way to preserve those memories.
My Papa died when I was 11. I know that my dad and his sisters have missed him so much since then, as have I. But my sister, Abbie, was only 3 when he passed away. She has no memories of him except what she’s been told — so they are borrowed memories. If we had had cellphones in the early to mid ‘90s, there would be an overabundance of photos of the two of them — perhaps even videos. Memories preserved in a form that can be rewatched.
Back then, you took photos on a roll of film and had no idea until you got a photo back from the developer whether it was blurry, out of focus or someone had their eyes closed. Now, you can look immediately at your phone and tell if someone moved or blinked, and you can retake it.
On top of that, you had to store the photos. And in the unfortunate event of a flooded basement, a house fire or another tragedy, those printed photos could be ruined, those memories in printed form damaged or gone forever.
My husband and I talked as we left the funeral, and I told him how lucky I thought the late man’s great-grandkids are, because they were able to have photos taken with him that they knew were safely stored in the cloud, they have videos of themselves calling him by name for the first time and, most importantly, they are able to replay videos and hear his voice again.
My Uncle Charlie was not a man that liked pictures. In fact, in many I took of him, he either shot me a bird or made a silly face — but that was our relationship, so those frozen memories are still near and dear to me.
I have photos of myself and my Papa in his yard playing, posed Polaroids that I’ve scanned onto my Shutterfly account for safe-keeping.
But what I wouldn’t give to hear Papa say “Hey Deedart” or to hear Charlie’s voice saying “Hey A-hole” just one more time.
Jason’s cousin has a son named John Robert. He’s a little over a year old, and he is learning and growing so quickly. We are so fortunate that his parents let us spend time with him and be a part of his life.
I’ve been trying pretty much since he exited the womb to get him to say “Ashlee.” Then Jason said that “Ash” might be easier, so for the last month or so, I’ve been encouraging him to say that. Imagine my surprise when I was filming him eating Cheetos to send to Jason while he was at work and told John Robert to say “Ash” AND HE DID IT.
While that memory will always be close in my mind and in my heart, I have it on video — and there’s something about that that is irreplaceable.
Cellphones might be a distraction in so many forms and in so many situations, but when it comes to preserving some of the moments in our lives that we don’t realize we’re going to one day miss, they are priceless.