Illustration for article titled Hey, Put Down Your Goddamn Camera

There's something to be said for watching a concert with your own eyes, not mediated by the lens of a camera or the fuzzy screen of a cellphone, compulsively trying to capture it forever.

You'll only remember hazy scraps and snippets, like when the guitarist smashed his Fender into the speaker and you got clipped in the eye by plastic shrapnel because you were right up front, and never moved, never gave an inch to the intruding crowd, even though you had to pee really bad during the last three songs. Those are the moments that matter, the ones you'll hang onto, the ones you'll recount again and again in bars and on roadtrips. Or maybe you're drunk, and you won't remember anything, but the next day, you'll know you had a really amazing time, inversely proportional to the size of your hangover, and by how wispy the images, sounds and smells are that billow through your brain are.


Not that you were pissed off for half an hour while you tried to hold your arm steady against the quaking crowd, clenching your entire body to forever freeze the perfect photo op, or waiting for the most awesome possible time to record a clip, stalking that ephemeral moment like prey, just to upload it for your other friends who were lame and didn't make it.

Those photos might be on Facebook forever, but what are you really recording for posterity? A million smudged pixels that, if I squint, vaguely resembles John Mayer? A blown out recording of a song that sounds kinda like a bad cover of that Grizzly Bear song? Oh, it's really Vampire Weekend. And it is "Two Weeks." Oops.

Just because you can document and share nearly every moment of your life doesn't mean you should. Stop worrying so much about stealing away with an image or a clip that perfectly crystallizes the night, like a trophy to collect, another document to catalog, and just experience it. Enjoy it. There's not a camera on the planet that can capture the way a concert makes you feel. Take one picture. Mark the occasion. Then put your goddamn camera down.

Image is CC licensed from Flickr user Mosesxan.

Memory [Forever] is our week-long consideration of what it really means when our memories, encoded in bits, flow in a million directions, and might truly live forever.


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