Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Remember When . . . People Saw the World?

Okay, this isn't so much a history-themed post as a modern-day rant, LOL.

So, five years ago David and I went to Niagara Falls for our 10th anniversary. It was gorgeous, we had a lovely time, and we said then that we'd take the kids when Rowyn (who was only 3 at the time) was bigger and better able to actually, you know, remember it.

Well, the kids now have their passports, so we decided to take a spontaneous trip to Niagara for the 4th. (Because, you know, nothing says American Independence Day like traveling into Canada, LOL. Seriously, their fireworks over the falls are fantastic! So yes, we and thousands of others went to Canada for the Fourth, LOL.) The kids had a blast and want to make it an annual tradition.

So there we were, absorbing this grandeur. As we stood there on the Canadian side and looked out over the Horseshoe Falls, David said, "Can you imagine being the first European to see this?"

I, of course, put on an over-the-top accent and said, "I say! What a smashing good waterfall!"
David added, "Back up, back up! I think maybe we shouldn't send the boats down that!"

We being us, this went on for a while, the kids ignoring us while we pretended we were explorers of old seeing this for the first time, with no one else around.

But oh, there were other people around. And on this trip, they were both driving me nuts and making me sad.

Selfies. Selfies were the bane of the trip. Not for us--we didn't even get out our cell phones. But oh. My. Gracious.

People were so busy trying to get a selfie of themselves in front of the Falls that they weren't actually looking at the falls! This was especially noticeable on the Maid of the Mist boat ride that takes you up to it. Where, you know, if you don't actually look when the boat is going by, you miss it. But instead of seeing this amazing scene, at least half of the people on this boat had their backs to it. Their arms out. Often extended with a selfie-stick. Shoving the rest of us against the wall so that they could smile at their smart phone.

They would rather have taken a picture of themselves in front of something beautiful than to see something beautiful.

Eventually, of course, they turned around . . . with their phones still up. So they could video it. Which meant that they were staring at their four-inch screens rather than the actual sight.

I'm not saying "Don't take pictures." Not at all! I obviously adore a good photograph--hence my use of one up top. But for goodness sake, don't miss the thing you came to see so that your phone can see it! Get a picture, then put the dang thing away, will you, world? Have a little courtesy for the thousands of people around you instead of shoving your way by them so you're in prime selfie-taking position. Take the time to soak it all in. Ask questions. Be silly. Make way for the little kid straining up on tiptoe to try to see.

See. See this beauty of God's creation instead of the screen of your cell phone. Actually enjoy the place you are. Be the place you are. You don't live in your phone (though many of you seem to. Ahem). You live here. With those people you just shoved aside. You want to remember it? It won't be by adding another photo to the thousands-huge camera roll. It'll be by being fully in that moment while you're there.

Back in the day before cameras, much less cell phones, people could still make memories. They made them by being. By living. By experiencing.

What did those explorers think when they first saw them? Or the people who traveled to it in the Colonial days, when it was already a destination? What would it have been like for them?

Interestingly, largely the same as it is for us. This sight you have the opportunity to behold is a sight enjoyed by people for centuries. There's a kind of magic in that, isn't there? Let's live that. Let's absorb it. Let's be part of the wonder. Cuz our cell phones really don't care. But the people around us? They do. Let's be people, instead of just selfie sticks, eh?

End rant. ;-)


  1. When we were at Niagara last year, I noticed the "selfie" mania too, and it made me sad. And this doesn't just happen at Niagara, but at State Parks, fireworks displays, etc. It's truly a breath of fresh air to see a family just enjoying the experience, simply being in the moment, rather than constantly capturing it for their social media posts. As always, great insight, Roseanna!!

    1. Definitely happens everywhere, yes! It's just insane...

  2. Thanks for this great post Roseanna!! It's so true!! People today are missing the world and people around them for the sake of their phones. Hope they someday learn to put them away! Despite this,glad to know you had a happy 4th! God Bless!!

  3. I understand your point about taking pictures instead of experiencing the thing.

    Aside from that, I want to comment two or three things:
    - Imagine the first humans! to see the falls. They probably weren't European.
    - People did not! see the same thing some century ago. Due to erosion, the falls are constantly receding upstream. Modern mankind is trying to slow down this natural effect by pouring concrete... And the amount of water going down every second was much greater before diversions for energy production started.
    - I imagine the "original" experience to be much more intense and raw. No guardrails, no hotels and casinos, no bridge, no cars and trains. It took you days to get there. You heard the rumble well in advance without knowing its source. And crossing the river was a real challenge. (No need for a passport, though.)

    I sometimes wonder if people before tourism saw the beauty and spectacle I imagine (even without the fireworks three nights a week) or a huge and dangerous obstacle to their survival.