Our attention is being hijacked at every turn with social media, phones, scrolling. I'm ready to make changes.
I was at a beautiful flamenco show, and during the show something really bothered me. At the National Hispanic Cultural Center, during the sacred performance of the live theater, several people took out their phones and began recording and taking pictures. No one made an announcement beforehand asking people to put their phones away–nor did they need to or have to. These are grown adults, who “should know” better, right? The phones took me out of the performance, and it certainly took the phone users out of it. As I’ve thought about it more, there are larger forces at fault than the average user, we are all being hijacked by these technologies.
I have a few thoughts:
What do people do with all the videos and pictures they take?
Do they ever once go back and look at it? I’m truly asking this as a photographer who does this for a living.
As a photographer, making the conscious decision to put your camera away is just as important, if not MORE important than taking it out to take photos. Asking the questions, “does this event or does this subject want me to or need me to photograph it right now?” really are crucial to me as an artistic photographer. Consent is so crucial. Even when I’m completely in public or even when I photograph people who totally allow me to do so in a session, I still go through important questions about permissions and ethics in my mind.
Taking your phone or camera out to take a photo can sometimes totally take you out of simply enjoying the moment. Whether it’s live art, the sunset, or even the loved ones around you. Our focus would be better served by being present.
We are being hijacked.
Meta, Facebook, Instagram, Google, their entire business model feeds off of how long we can stay addicted to their apps and algorithms. How long we scroll is good for their business. They are hijacking human behavior and our brains to get us to be addicted. (Source “Stolen Focus” by Johann Hari.)
The reason the phones bothered me so much is that dance and theater is the opposite of the surrogate world of social media and the internet. Dance is by nature interactive and social at one of its highest forms. Moreover, I regard the theater as a sacred space where technology and phones should be switched off out of respect for performers and those around all of us in the audience.
Another reason it bothered me is that it’s not even our fault, the consumer in many ways. I am just as guilty of using my phone at the worst possible moments, when people are talking to me, when I’m at a social funcion. The technologies we are using are programmed to get us addicted, programmed to persuade us to use them and take our attention away from the things that matter most.
I’m making changes
I really am committed to making changes, I am against Meta (facebook) on so many levels and I’m working on building better resources for my portfolio and marketing that don’t rely on social media so much. I still run social media for a few businesses, and I do think there is value in that, but even then, I hope we all can move off the platforms one day.
I think it’s entirely possible to use it extremely sparingly or not at all, concentrating on email lists, and our own websites for news and updates.
I even have a grand vision of sending out an actual print-art newsletter that avoids social media altogether. (Comment or email me in my contact if you’re interested) We will see what happens, but for now, I really am committed to making changes. I don’t know how long it will take to completely move off of the socials, or even away from so much phone use, but I want to replace all of this time with more constructive outlets.
I may buy a dumb phone again, an actual notebook and an actual small camera to carry with me instead of a phone. I may just talk to people and ask for directions more, we will see. I don’t know what it fully looks like, but changes are necessary for me especially with all that I value and hold dear as an artist who is committed to strong community building in culture and in dance.
Photos, Headshots, Short Video