Arriving at the clean and clinical Stockholm airport, my pre-booked taxi is failing me. I have some time to spare until this is sorted.
Next to me in arrivals there is a family of three or four young Swedish girls, a young boy and their mother. OK, I don’t know if it was their mother, but she looked like their mother. So I declared her their mother.
The oldest (apparently) sister comes up from immigration with a huge backpack and very tanned. It seems like it was a long journey back home. What followed were scenes of tears, tsunami intensity style, and long, very long hugs, one by one. Highly emotional.
But the mother had remained detached, four or five meters away, capturing it all on video on her iPhone. This was very visible. She would move one meter here, one meter there to make sure she had it all captured, like an experienced reporter. Finally, it is her turn for the hugs and tears, and the iPhone is passed onto the son for the continuous capturing.
And I thought, how sad! How sad the she was not the one jumping towards the exit gates and getting and giving the first hugs, and wetting the floor with the first flood of tears. Instead, she was capturing the reality, grabbing those moments, encapsulating the emotions, recording the experience, reporting for a possible future. And the present went. It slipped through. She can’t re-take it, re-live it, rescue it, reclaim it for a ‘take two’.
This was my first chain of thoughts. My second was, who am I to make a judgement and decide what is good or bad. Is my moral ground related to my frustration with the unseen taxi driver? What do I gain with my unexpected socio-anthropological observation? Do I feel better?
There is a case however, a broader case, of all of us capturing a reality that is already gone. The odd photograph is now substituted by the epidemic of selfies, in this Era of Narcissus. We grab space and time digitally and Instagram it, or Snapchat it obsessively. There is a case for reflection here. It’s obsessive and it’s done, mainly, because we can. We are in love with the duplication of us.
I still feel a bit sad. No matter how much my inner self tells me to get a life and wait for the taxi, that it’s not my business what that Swedish family does, somewhere inside still feels that the video is not the reality, the selfie is not the self and that we are missing the point. I feel for a second or two, perhaps more, that I am missing something myself jut by seeing others missing it.
The point being, grab the real stuff, not its memory.
The point being, what are we going to do when the entire world has got its selfie looking more ridiculous, with overgrown lips and sending virtual kisses?
The point being, I need a digital sabbatical.
The point being, forget that taxi, it’s not turning up. Let’s go to the rank.