Put phones down; cherish moments both beautiful, sad


Audience members enjoy the production of “Morning Joe.”

When the pope arrived in America in September, a photo went viral depicting a crowd of attendees capturing the moment on their cellphones, except a single woman, who watched, smirking in delight with no phone in sight.

The smiling face of the woman sticks out like a sore thumb in a sea of partially obscured faces, peeking out behind metal devices.

But if this photo emerged nearly two months ago, why am I writing about it now?

In Thursday’s paper of The Sunflower, the same phenomena occurred in a photo taken of the “Morning Joe” attendees.

In the image, a handful of people are holding up their phones capturing the live, nationally televised event at WSU; everyone except a sole woman who is watching intently, with no phone in hand.

The similarity between the pope photo and that taken during “Morning Joe” is freakishly similar.

But why do images such as these go viral?

It has a profound effect on us when we see our culture exhibiting detrimental behavior.

When we see those two women, lavishing in the moment, free of distraction, we become sorely aware of our own disconnect to the world around us. We feel almost envious of those who aren’t bound by technology’s grasp. We begin to ask ourselves, “What experiences have I missed out on thus far because I was too busy indulging in my cell phone?”

Seeing the image forces us to re-evaluate our lives and experiences because most of us would be on our phones capturing the moment rather than living in it.

Our dependence on technology has created a society that not only misses out on life’s beautiful moments, but also misses out on life’s thought-provoking, emotional ones.

In certain situations, cellphones provide a safety net for feelings of loneliness and sadness. If people begin to feel uneasy, they can grab their phone and distract themselves from those feelings. 

 Comedian Louis C.K. explained this phenomena and why he hates cellphones on the Conan O’Brien talk show. 

C.K. said he thinks phones are toxic, especially to children because they are always into their phones and they don’t look at people in the eyes when they’re talking to them.

“They don’t feel the empathy,” he said.

He explained that we learn empathy from our negative interpersonal interactions. When we are experiencing these interactions online, we don’t feel remorse when we make someone on the receiving end feel bad.

“You need to build an ability to be yourself and not be doing anything,” he continued. “That’s what the phones are taking away is the ability to just sit there.”

He theorized that we reach for our phones to fill our “forever empty.” 

 “Sometimes you’re in your car and you think, ‘Oh no, here it comes,’” he said. “That I’m alone part begins to visit on you. Just this sadness. Life is tremendously sad just by being in it.”  

He goes on to describe a time he realized he was feeling lonely and felt the urge to grab his cellphone and text people to stop the feelings.

Instead, he said he allowed the emotions to “hit [him] like a truck,” and he began to cry.

He described the moment as beautiful because sadness is poetic. He said we are lucky to live sad moments.

Only in profound sadness can we learn to appreciate true happiness, so the next time you feel the urge to reach for your phone to snap a pic or escape an awkward situation, don’t.

Let the emotion of the moment wash over you. Later on when you feel sad that you didn’t get a picture of the moment, think back to that image of the phoneless woman smiling in the crowd. 

Remember that a picture can’t replace a moment, so live it. Cherish it.