Here’s a little poll: How many of you, upon witnessing something slightly out of the ordinary, routinely whip out your phone and begin shooting video of it?
I see that all the time. Usually it happens like this: Some poor sap will be having a bad day, and will get in the face of someone at the ticket counter, or the checkout line or the DMV. The last time I witnessed something like this, it was a guy in Miami who had been waiting for his flight to board for 12 hours, and finally lost it and had to be dragged away by security. At the first sound of his raised voice, cell phones filled the air like it was a Metallica concert. It was a sight to behold: Not the guy being hustled off, but the several dozen idiots racing to get it online before anyone else. Maybe I should have gotten some footage.Here’s a screen grab of a video recently hosted on the L.A. Times web site. I’m not linking to it, because it’s an extremely crappy video, but I thought the picture was instructive. Apparently this time it was a flight attendant who had the meltdown, and was being restrained at the front of the plane. At no time during the video can you see the flight attendant, or any action at all beyond the dopes in coach-class trying to get a better angle. At some point you can hear someone shrieking in distress. The passengers laugh. That’s about it. There’s a reason not all videos go viral.
Count the cell phones. This prosaic event is better-documented than a presidential press conference. So it is with nearly every small drama in America. It all goes online, so saps like me can browse by and feel somehow superior. If you’re having a particularly bad day, maybe it’s a consolation to know that somebody else will find it entertaining.
Is this a good thing? I don’t know. It does seem a disappointing use for miraculous technology. And it kind of redefines the meaning of a bad day, when the bad day can no longer be forgotten.