A Cultural Addiction To All Things Technology

by Dan Beckmann

The first time I traveled to Italy all my expenses were paid for: the hotel, the meals, and the wine. I took video of it all. Shooting a documentary on life in Rome I saw the Pantheon, the Forum, and the Roman Colosseum. Traipsing my way through the Vatican, shooting everything that moved with my big, bulky video camera, it dawned on me (years later, unfortunately) that I hadn’t seen anything. Not really. I was just capturing moments instead of realizing them.

Fast forward ten-plus years.

Ok, yea…so I sneaked a pic. Big deal.

The overpriced camera I once used has been replaced with an affordable smartphone. It’s much easier now to clandestinely smuggle a pocket-sized device into the Sistine Chapel, and snap an image without drawing much attention. Just remember to take off that “camera click” noise in the Settings menu. In my day, it was impossible for me to sneak past the Swiss Guard carrying a shoulder-mounted camera with a light on top.

Charlene deGuzman, who wrote and stars in this short film, speaks to how our use of technology has come at the expense of forging real, human connections.  NPR ran Charlene’s short (which has now been viewed over 22 million times) saying, “The cultural shift is complete. We’re all just alone with our smartphones, even when we’re surrounded by other humans.

Today, Apple’s iOS7 will be available for download, and the release of their new iPhone line is on deck. It all promises to be cool, fun and extremely time consuming to figure out. But Charlene’s video serves as a reminder that there’s a whole world out there to experience. And it was never meant to be seen through a viewfinder or a 4 inch piece of smartphone glass.

I’ll still use the camera on my iPhone. But now I’ll try doing so with the proper balance. A balance in the belief that it is possible to Just DO Something…Anything! with my phone in the “off” position.

Dan is the Co-Founder and President of Just DO Something…Anything! He spent nearly 15 years with NBC News as a cameraman, writer, editor and producer. His travels have taken him throughout Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. Dan loves wine (he thanks Italy for that) and plays the piano badly (he blames Italy’s wine for that).  http://DanBeckmann.com

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