Capturing the moment – Should you ask permission or apologise for being lazy?

Cover Story, Editorial, Features

We’ve all seen it, and we have all done it, some more so than others. So when did we all become so lazy? What am I talking about? The dreadful habit of picking up our phone, starting the camera app (it is probably allocated a quick start button, and is also probably already open anyway), and pointing it at everything we see and experience, capturing the moment (on our phone) for ever – or until we delete it as the memory fills up, or when we decide we didn’t really need it in the first place. Cameras on phones and social media apps allow us to share experiences and events with others like never before, often live ‘as it happens’, but do we really need to?

Well at least the food is not going cold…

Picture the scene, [sic. sorry, Ed.], you are with a friend in a fancy restaurant or even a fast-food place, your meal is in front of you and your friend beside you gets their phone out and starts snapping away at their dish and then opens up (their constantly open) social media app (or several), and posts something witty, banal, reflective, etc., along with the images of the dish they’ve been served. Meanwhile you are starving and politely waiting to start eating your meal! Sound familiar? I’m as guilty as anyone for doing this, although I do tend to wait until after the meal to make any social media postings…

“You can’t start until I’ve taken a photo and updated my social media!”

Then there are the ubiquitous concerts or sporting events with people (always right in front of me it seems) constantly trying to capture the action in a flurry of burst shots with the ‘camera’ flash trying to light up an enormous scene that is maybe more than 50m away – seriously, does no-one realise their phone ‘camera’ flash only works at very close distances? And if you are really unlucky, you’ll be stuck with that person who decides they want to ‘video’ everything by keeping their mobile phone high in the air (and blocking your view) for what seems like the entire concert!

Now how does this relate to business and especially to those studying? I also see people at business events, fairs, seminars, visits, etc., guilty of the same behaviour – snapping away with their phones at presenters, screened presentations (e.g. PPT slides), stands, products, anything at all. We lecturers see students constantly doing the same during lectures, ‘snapping’ each and every slide shown on a screen, and sometimes even having their ’camera’ constantly running in video mode pointed at the lecturer!

The crux of my article has a couple of points: firstly, hardly anyone first asks permission to take photos or record video, although, for example, in the case of concerts, we are now seeing such behaviour banned at many concerts at the request of artists, and rightly so. This kind of behaviour was never so prevalent before the smartphone ‘camera’!

Secondly, when did we get so lazy that we need to capture everything rather than experience it? This is especially true when I see students at my lecturers doing nothing but taking photos of my slides. In the past, did students bring their SLR or compact cameras to lectures constantly photographing everything the lecturer wrote on the blackboard? [I am that old, Ed.] So why should we accept this kind of behaviour today – just because it is easy? Most students I meet these days don’t even own a notebook and pen/pencil! Don’t they realise (I know I’ve explained enough times) that writing down your own notes, in your own words, in the way you understand it from what you see, hear, or experience, has at least three positive memory reinforcers? You see/hear it, you write it down in a way you understand/interpret it, then you read your own note – that’s three times you experience it.

Then there is the question of permission – I have had to remind students on many occasions that it is not permitted to take photos during lecturers, presentations or company visits, without first seeking permission. Certainly, capturing video of a lecturer or presenter, or when on a tour of a local factory, is a definite no-no!

Far be it from me to complain about the joy of taking photographs – I am a photographer after all – but this is beyond lazy for students to take photos instead of notes. The popular social media apps probably have more photographs of people’s individual meals shown in one day than meals served around the globe in a year!

So, next time your friend takes out their phone (or probably they already have it in their hand ready for all occasions) and fires up their camera app ready to take a ‘snap’ of anything other than a beautiful sunset, slap their hand and tell them to capture the moment in their memory instead, with all their ‘other’ senses rather than the digital one…

We are constantly using our phone cameras to capture everything, but sometimes it is good to share with others the experience we are having. Here students are sharing a live video-link with India from Repovesi.

Oh ok, let then quickly ‘snap’ the sunset as it is not like a daily occurrence, is it?… but then, tell then to now sit back and enjoy the moment without their phone in front of them…