Tolstoy’s words came to me today after a discussion with a colleague about the degree to which the social media world had affected live events. His argument (my colleague’s, not Tolstoy) was that young people in particular now considered videoing, photographing and tweeting about live events as part of the experience. My argument was that we have become so pre-occupied with recording the moment that we seem less and less able to live the moment.
Most of the live music I now watch, I find myself surrounded by people filming the stage on their smartphone. Even while the band’s performing, they’re manically tweeting about being there. Now I am not averse to Twitter and I am writing this as a blog post, so I am certainly not going to undermine social media as a valuable medium. But have we become so obsessed with sharing the moment that we forget to just be in the moment?
Surely watching a band live has to be about losing yourself in the music, about admiring the mastery of the musicians, or singing along to the songs that form the soundtrack to your life? If you’re concentrating on telling people that you’re there, or sharing with friends what they’re missing, aren’t you really missing the point?
Shared experience is often a better experience. But there’s a deep connection at play when you’re with friends, all dancing to the same song. I don’t feel the same depth when I am posting a video on YouTube – I just feel distracted by the mechanics of sharing. Have we confused shared experience with sharing the experience? Should we, as Tolstoy suggested, stop for a moment worrying about sharing and just look around, just live in the moment?