present tense

I am in a stadium of over 50,000 seats where perhaps that same amount of people sit and stand and scream and shake. Popular Band takes center stage and their highly expensive and calculated light show begins to dance along with their sound.

The Audience revels in their seats and their highly expensive and technologically advanced cell phone light show also begins.

In the olden days…or when I was younger…we’d bring along lighters to concerts, or those without would watch the sway of flames hum along with the music. The miniature fires would illuminate the crowd. Everyone was present with their flame.

Present tense, there are no lighters. People smoke up in private huddles and you might suddenly smell their secret stash behind you. The shine of lighters has been replaced by smart phones.

Beside me, as I sing along to the words I can remember and weep at the ones that remind me of something else, I notice a man (along with his wife/girlfriend/partner and son) using his illumination device to socially network. As the British lead singer jumps up and down with his fingers on piano– painted in neon letters– this man is scrolling with his finger to see what other people are doing.

When is what’s happening now enough?

People in museums stare at art older than their oldest family member…older than the textbooks we read about the history of our people. Art drenched in textured life. You can smell the booze in Pollack’s drips. You can smell the despair in Van Gogh’s canvases.

And yet, a person beside me, two feet from these works of art, must take a photo of this with their cell phone. Rather than seeing it with their eyes, glass must separate everything. A glass screen (often cracked) that can then upload then download then be used as wallpaper or screen saver or profile picture or or or….because it is not enough to just see this art. Everyone must know you are there.

So, don’t forget to check in.