With Thanksgiving coming and so quickly passing us by, the Christmas season is officially upon us. For many, it is a time for joy, holiday parties, family gatherings, and spending 20 minutes trying to capture the perfect family photo to post on social media. Wait….what? Sadly, many of us, myself included at times, spend more time trying to capture the perfect moment of special occasions through pictures or social media posts than we do actually living them.
A research study done by Linda Henkel recently caught my attention. In it, she discovered that individuals who took photos of objects during a museum tour were less likely to be able to recall details about the objects that they photographed after the tour than those who did not take photographs. I have always been an avid picture taker. Even before social media existed, I constantly attempted to capture any moment that I felt might be worth remembering at a later date. Growing up, you could see more photos hanging on my bedroom walls than you could paint. So this study led me to think, has my habit of taking photos led me to remember less of the events photographed and even worse, to not be fully present in the moment?
Obviously the memories made during the holidays are quite different than those of museum tours but perhaps the take home message from this study can translate to our upcoming celebrations as well. Maybe we should spend less time trying to photograph the children playing with their new toys on Christmas morning and actually get down on the floor and play WITH them. Maybe instead of posting to social media about how grateful we are for a holiday with our families we should put down our iPhones and tell our family members in person how much this time together means to us. Perhaps this way, we will not only be able to recall the day more efficiently in the years to come but also may give us the opportunity to make even more memories that would otherwise been impossible with our faces staring through the lens of a camera.
So this holiday season I am challenging myself to try to enjoy my time in front of the lens rather than behind it. Sure, I will certainly still take a photo or two but I will attempt to be more mindful about the amount of time I spend doing this and jump on opportunities to actually participate in the moment rather than capturing it. Perhaps you will choose to do the same.