When I started this blog, I was determined that I wouldn’t get into Grumpy Old Man mode. There are a lot of ways in which we live in a very good world, in spite of all the bad things that happen, and although we all like to look back on some golden age of our childhood, there’s an awful lot that I wouldn’t want to go back to.
There have been a couple of things in recent weeks that have discomfited me. I’m putting them down here to get them out of my system – if I know the people who read my posts, I’m expecting people to agree with me for the most part, but I’m not expecting anything to change from me saying it.
The first one was during our holiday trip to Washington DC a couple of months ago. The last time we were there was in 2008, and on both trips we visited the Lincoln Memorial. As we remember it (it wasn’t just me, me wife remembers it this way too) the people visiting that Memorial were quiet and respectful, contemplative even, reading the inspirational carved inscriptions of the Gettysburg Address and Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address. There was a warden (I can’t call him a guard) asking people to respect the sense of the place, to treat it respectfully and, essentially, to be quiet. And a very moving and emotional experience it was.
Not this year.
This year, it was like the proverbial bear garden. The chatter was incessant, there was no sense of place – this was just another stop on the tourist round. It was all about the photos, particularly the selfies – I was surprised that no-one was actually climbing up to have their photo taken sat in Lincoln’s lap.
How did this change so quickly?
And it got worse. We visited a number of the nearby Memorials and although some were well-respected (the Vietnam War Memorial, for example), the one that was shocking was the Korean War Memorial.
For anyone who hasn’t seen it, it’s a haunting sight. The depiction of 19 US soldiers and Marines wearing waterproof capes trudging through the undergrowth is unlike any of the other other memorials, and in the early evening twilight was particularly moving.
So why are people taking selfies of themselves there?
As someone who dislikes having his photograph taken at the best of times, I can’t understand the need to place oneself in every photo. What’s the purpose? Are you worried that people won’t believe you were actually there unless they can see you in the picture?
And people are smiling for the camera for a photo they are taking of themselves. Why? I can semi-understand people smiling if someone else is taking their photo – it’s what you do, it’s how we are all brought up – but smiling at yourself while you’re taking a picture of yourself standing in front of a War Memorial???
Is it just me that has a problem with this?
The second incident was at the Of Monsters And Men concert last week. We were there a little late (that’s another story) so had to settle for the unreserved seating to the side of the auditorium. As a result, we were viewing the stage from an angle and, being on the second row, through the gaps between the heads of the people in front.
Which would have been fine if one girl in front hadn’t been filming most of the concert on her iPhone. Which, of course, she had to hold to one side so that she could still see the stage which, in turn meant that the iPhone was filling one of those gaps through which we were trying to see the stage.
Why? As my wife said, if she went on YouTube when she got home she could probably find better concert footage of the band than she’d just taken on her phone. I don’t mind people taking the odd photo, but filming whole songs?
So there’s my Grumpy Old Man grumbles. Sorry for going on. Calm again now.
And to cheer me up, and to show better live footage than the girl in fron got, here’s Of Monsters And Men performing King and Lionheart.