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Put away your phones

| Monday, October 6, 2014

I went to China with my mother after graduating high school. We went sightseeing, climbed the steps of many mountains and enjoyed many performances. We took photos at every scenic view and recorded videos during every cable cart ride or Chinese opera show. I was physically present at every moment, however, I felt distant from every experience.

Getting back to the states, I started realizing how often my friends and I would take pictures of our food. I noticed how often we would stop in the middle of the street to take selfies. I realized how ridiculous Instagram is and how religiously devoted certain people are about their Instagram accounts.

Put away your phones.

In an age where technology is seemingly integrated in all aspects of our lives, it seems natural to have your phone everywhere you go. I think that is absolutely fine. However, it becomes a problem when the phone is in the way of people enjoying their lives. Don’t let the phone get in the way of enjoying the moment and being present.

It is completely understandable when you want to capture an extraordinary moment with our phones. It’s a natural instinct to want to treasure something special or rare. However, it becomes a problem when we take pictures, record videos and send Snapchats of every moment of our lives.

It prevents us from appreciating the people currently surrounding us. It distances friends who are mere inches away from each other. It silences meaningful dialogues and exchanges. It prevents us from living in the present. It also becomes an annoyance for others. It hinders speedy service when waiters and waitresses are forced to reheat food when it becomes too cold because people are too busy choosing the best filters. It becomes a hazard when people attempt to take selfies on a rollercoaster, forcing the ride operators to stop the ride. It has become an issue at concerts when people cannot enjoy the performance due to the sea of smartphones recording the entire concert in front of them.

Sometimes, when I am on the sidelines of the football field, I take a moment to enjoy the game that I otherwise cannot behind my camera. If we really want to remember all these experiences and moments in our lives, we should put away our phones. Our eyes are the best cameras, our ears are the best microphones and our mouths tell the best stories. Pictures can enhance our retellings of the events, but they should not be the only medium. I implore you to put down your smartphone cameras and appreciate the moment. A picture may be worth a thousand words, but when you have a thousand pictures, people aren’t going to take the time to read your novel.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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About Wei Lin

Wei Lin currently serves as an Assistant Managing Editor for The Observer. He served as the Photo Editor on the 2014-2015 Editorial Board. He is a senior Accountancy, Economics, and Chinese triple major living in Knott Hall. He hails from the borough of Queens in New York City.

Contact Wei