Please note: In case the video above does not play properly in this window, you can view it directly by clicking here.
Google Glass, in case you haven’t heard of it, was a Google project that involved a set of glasses with a built-in camera and computer display that would occupy the upper-right quadrant of the wearer’s field of vision. With a series of voice commands, the user could perform the same basic functions of a smartphone; send and receive calls and text messages, take pictures, record video, look up directions, navigate maps with live GPS data, hold a live video call, and translate words between languages (seems odd to call those “basic functions” doesn’t it?).
The video above is a succinct yet engaging overview of all the capabilities of the product. Through the clips composing the video, we get to experience the heart-stopping thrill of a skydive, the precision of a trapeze artist catching a fellow performer as they sail through the air, and the beauty of a horse mane that billows around the riders hands as it leaps over hurdles in a graceful gallop. Interestingly enough, we get to experience simpler moments that we are all perhaps more familiar with: playing catch with an excited dog, a father twirling his daughter by the arm, and an airline passenger rushing through an airport to catch ones flight. But the first few times you watch this video, you don’t really notice the distinction between the grand and the ordinary, do you?
Why is that?
Part of it is the production. The music**, the cuts from sweeping, green mountain landscapes to crowded city streets lined with yellow cabs, the sound effects of laughter, plane engines, and gasps of breath all do a great job of contributing to the general message of the video. That message, the take-away for the viewer, is: life is happening everywhere to everyone and it is beautiful. A talented producer can take whatever material the camera catches and draw out the details hidden within the shot to magnify the beauty in even the most mundane of images or videos. That is why events like an epic sky-dive and a tranquil afternoon picnic in the park can coexist seamlessly in media such as the video above.
But the other contributing factor to the deceptive quality of this life-collage is a deeper, existential one. Think for a moment about how you want others to perceive you and your life. What do you want them to see? Hear? Experience?
Are the scenes that arise in your mind raw, un-doctored snapshots of life as it is or was? Or are they stylized to some degree? Polished? In motion? Slow motion? Set to a soundtrack? If so, then I can assure you that you are not alone.
Just take a look at the content social media enables us to share: Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Youtube are filled pictures and videos of everything from half-eaten burritos styled in gorgeous, sepia coloration to cliff-diving escapades shot in HD (or 3D) in first-person perspective with a sweeping orchestral soundtrack. What’s happening on social media isn’t new. Ever since we’ve had the printing press, photo albums (the physical ones that weigh 200 pounds), and home-recording, people have been sharing snapshots of their life with the world. The same principal is there; the only thing that has changed over time is the technology with which to carry it out.
So what does this mean?
People want to live meaningful lives. We want our lives to be captivating, enchanting, and breath-taking to a watching audience.
Whatever form of content we choose to share with the world, the “likes”, comments, and subscribers almost seem to function as a way of validating the author. It’s a way of saying, “Someone else thinks this is meaningful too.” This system can be strongly encouraging and supportive, fostering life-appreciation amongst a broad community.
But the truly great thing about all of this is: Life is already meaningful whether it is on camera or not. Meaningful moments are happening everywhere, all the time, and all around you.
Donald Miller is an author I respect and he writes and speaks on God, life, and the elements of story. In general, his message is that God wants to write a story with your life. I agree. If you think about it, life is written like a story. It has a beginning, an end, conflict, resolution, themes, and a variety of dynamic characters.
Sometimes capturing a moment on camera (or a blog…) is the best way to understand part of the story. But the camera exists for the story, not the other way around.
Camera or no camera, blog or no blog, Facebook or no Facebook: what’s your story?