Sunday, September 30, 2012

Somewhere between living the moment and immortalizing it (again)

And so it happened again, another nephew, who will turn three next June went on an expedition with me, and once more there was no camera in sight. And – there you go – we met a donkey and there was serious child playing for enough time (the difference is that Issam, as opposed to Youssef, is not afraid of animals and so there was a lot of caressing going on).
And here were are, several years after the March 10 2008 post, “somewhere between living the moment and immortalizing it” back with the same question. So the alternative scenario would have been: I take my smartphone with me (a smartphone I do not have), snap a pick, toy with it on Instagram (on the account I did not open), tweet it (on the alias I never bothered to have) with “Sunday morning #nephew #animal #love #happiness” – and the moment which will or will not remembered later by my nephew would be shared with people (which I might or might not have met in person) rendering what is essentially a private incident to become a more public one (even if briefly as twitter tends to erase the content of the account after a limited period).
Why do I go back to the point of privacy over and over again? Maybe because I grew up in a time where it mattered? I go back to what Jodie Foster said about the Kristen Stewart cheating affair in a brilliantly penned post for The Daily Beast: “I have been an actress since I was 3 years old, 46 years to date. I have no memories of a childhood outside the public eye. I am told people look to me as a success story. Often complete strangers approach me and ask, How have you stayed so normal, so well-adjusted, so private? I usually lie and say, “Just boring I guess.””
Yes, essentially our lives might or might not be boring, but this is no ticket for other people to invade all sectors of it, specifically areas we would like to keep outside the limelight. Foster adds: “Actors who become celebrities are supposed to be grateful for the public interest. After all, they’re getting paid. Just to set the record straight, a salary for a given on-screen performance does not include the right to invade anyone’s privacy, to destroy someone’s sense of self.”
Someone I know got married, and – yes – went on a honeymoon. I keep getting updates as to her whereabouts and I recently checked her twitter account and discovered that there too she’s been exceptionally busy sharing whatever she is doing and where she is. But isn’t the whole principle of honeymoon that is it time alone spent by two lovers away from it all?
Sure, I know, people always sent postcards from their honeymoon and their trips, but the difference was that postcards entailed the element of “delayed gratification” – most of the time they would reach their destination after the couple had come back from their time alone. Even emails still allowed the luxury of just checking them in leisure time – to be sent or replied to at one’s own convenience.
But this whole celebration or “the here”, “the now” – the immediate that is, sort of baffles me. I was once having a discussion with a social media savvy friend, essentially he said “so you travel, you find your directions through your app on the phone, see a restaurant, read its reviews online and decide if you want to go there or not for lunch.” To which I replied “you travel, you take the tram, go off at some random stop, get lost, explore the city’s underbelly off the beaten path, find a mom and pop hangout, try your luck, and see what comes out of it.”
But then, what do I know? These days the net is abuzz with the 25th anniversary of Bad (Michael Jackson’s follow up to Thriller). Which means that very soon there will be another 25th anniversary, that of the release of “Moonwalker” – and hence my first date with the girl that was the most beautiful in our school. Had we been living today, probably our first date would have been tweeted, facebooked, Instagramed (insert other appropriate verbs here). It’s a good thing I can still remember it as a private event. Because essentially, that’s what it is.

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