A few years ago I had the good fortune to attend the Super Bowl, which was being held in Tampa that year. Since the Cardinals lost – there is a certain Steelers linebacker whose name cannot be spoken among my family – there was no reason to stick around after the game to watch the victory celebration and the handing out of various trophies. As we (and the rest of the Cardinals fans in attendance) filed slowly and somewhat sadly out of the stadium, I noticed something very odd about the people who were sticking around. Of the Steelers fans remaining to watch the celebration, a good half of them were holding up a smartphone. That is, they were either snapping pictures or, more commonly, shooting video. So they were watching an LCD screen showing them events that were happening directly in front of them.
I've never forgotten that – the mental image of people who paid thousands of dollars to experience something in person and then not watching it so that they might have a terrible, shaky, low-quality video of it (I really question the watchability of a phone video taken from the third deck of an outdoor stadium at night). Don't get me wrong, I take pictures of things on occasion. But I have a strong preference for actually experiencing something that is happening around me rather than missing it because I'm trying to take a picture of it. Pictures are nice memories. You know what else is a nice memory? Actually seeing it happen and, you know, having a thing to remember.
Last week at a parade – for a certain Cup named after a certain Lord – I saw the exact same thing, only four years later and a thousand times worse. Every single person in attendance seemed to be holding a cameraphone, all of which were thrust skyward when the parade came near. So now everyone has a shitty picture of everyone else's hand holding up a phone. And no one actually saw the parade. Sounds like fun!
On Thursday evening I'm willing to bet that you saw more than a few people holding up phones trying to take pictures or videos of fireworks. Why? Why would anyone even consider doing that let alone actually do it? Even if your video turned out well (note: it won't), how is watching a cellphone video of fireworks going to be entertaining? Even if your pictures came out (note: they won't), are you going to look at pictures of fireworks? Are you going to reminisce about the one that went "BOOOOM!" with all your friends? Why? WHY? WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT?
But by all means, keep distracting the rest of us by waving your bright screens around in our faces. It enhances the experience for everyone.