Being Present

A node glows in the dark... - 2014-10-31_296102_people.jpg

National Geographic 2014 Photography Grand Prize and People Winner: “A Node Glows in the Dark”

Location: Hong Kong

Photo and caption by Brian Yen/National Geographic 2014 Photo Contest

Brian Yen says: “In the last 10 years, mobile data, smartphones and social networks have forever changed our existence. Although this woman stood at the center of a jam-packed train, the warm glow from her phone told the strangers around her that she wasn’t really there. She managed to slip away from ‘here’ for a short moment; she’s a node flickering on the social web, roaming the Earth, free as a butterfly. Our existence is no longer stuck to the physical here; we’re free to run away, and run we will.”

 All of the winning photographs in the three categories: People, places and nature photos are rather stunning pictures. I like Brian Yen’s picture, and I think Yen’s thoughts of his picture are rather telling of our present time period.  I agree with Yen when he says, “Our existence is no longer stuck to the physical here; we’re free to run away, and run we will.”

 I think Yen’s observation that, “our existence is no longer stuck to the physical here” is a good thing and a bad thing. The ability to communicate with people near or far away is a good thing. We have more ways to stay in touch with others. And it is a bad thing because people are not present to the events and experiences happening around them at any one moment.  People are now struggling with being present to basic things like paying attention while driving, or watching where they are walking, or giving their full attention to a child, or being fully present to the people they are talking to in a meeting.

The ability to multi-task our way through activities provides new ways of relating with others and, at the same time, it requires learning a new set of social skills of interacting with those on-line and in real time.

In this technological age, there are many more nuances to the guidelines I offer my children. For example, when my son is using the car, I ask him:  “Do you have your wallet (which has his driver’s license)? Do you have your phone?” Then I say, “Don’t fiddle with your phone, look for new songs, text, or take calls while you’re driving.”

When I was young and using the car, my dad would say to me, “Look both ways (at stop signs). Watch out for the crazy drivers and be safe.”

It’s a different time.

Web site for more of the 2014 National Geographic Winning Photos– Click Here

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