The webosphere had been all agog this week because Oxford Dictionaries declared “selfie” to be the word of the year for 2013. For you old folks, a “selfie” is defined as a smartphone self-portrait shared on social media.
For you young folks, a “dictionary” is what we used to call a non-electric spellchecker that was accessed by sneakernet and could be used by only one person at a time.
2013 ain’t 1968
While I was in Athens, Ohio, to do a presentation on the birth of the student rights movement, Curator Jessica finagled a field pass to the OU vs Miami of Ohio football game. Ostensibly she wanted me to shoot members of the undefeated 1968 football team to go along with action shots I have of them. I think she really wanted me to watch her younger sister, a member of OU’s Marching 110 prance around on the field playing her slidey thing. (Jessica is a band alum.)
I was less than excited. It was cold and parking was somewhere close to Louisville. Still, Curator Jessica can be persuasive.
Since I didn’t have to worry about game action, I wandered around looking at the spectators.
It became apparent very quickly that actually watching the game was secondary to gazing at portable electronic devices.
Here’s how we did it in the old days
One of the female students I was photographing while she was busy texting away gave me a “What is this creepy old guy looking at?” look.
I walked up, introduced myself and said, “I’m here doing a compare and contrast with football games from back in 1968. See, in my day, we didn’t have these fancy gizmos to keep our friends updated on the game. We had to use smoke signals. The stadium people would have small fires in pots scattered through the stadium so we could keep in touch with the folks on campus.”
“Really?” she asked, not quite convinced.
“Sure,” I said. “Wander around after the crowd leaves and you can probably still see small circles here and there burned into the concrete.” Then I walked away.
Urban legend or fodder for 30th Reunion
There is no doubt in my mind that the young woman went back to her dorm and shared the information I gave her.
It is either going to be the start of an urban legend or a story that will haunt her when she goes back for her 30th reunion.
Photo gallery of the New Age
Here’s a photo gallery of a modern university football game, one with nary a signal fire to be seen. Click on any photo to make it larger, then click on the sides to move through the gallery. And, just like when I was a student, the stands emptied out as soon as the Marching 110 finished the halftime show. It’s good to see that some things never change.
9 Replies to “Selfies and Smoke Signals”
I love the pic of the lady with the striped glove in her mouth. The pictures of people enjoying the game with cell phones could easily depict any activity anytime. Seems like people spend most of any event on their cell phone. Back in the old days we actually had to pay attention to what was going on around us.
When my kid got his first video camera, I said, “You have now effectively cut your life in half: you’ll spend half of your life shooting the video, then the other half of it looking at the video.”
As one of the ‘old folks’, I can remember:
When one phone on each floor of the SEMO dorm was shared by 2-3 dozen co-eds (why has that word gone the way of the dinosaur?)
When you had to stay home if you were expecting an important phone call ie. about a job, sick relative etc.
And the closest thing we had to a ‘selfie’ was cramming ourselves and friends into a photo booth at the dime store, and coming away with a strip of four (usually lousy) photos.
I still perfer the old style dictionary to spell check and a cell phone isa pain in the neck during a event. Besides, how many times did a battery run out on a old dictionary.
“Wander around after the crowd leaves and you can probably still see small circles here and there burned into the concrete.”
Ken, you have my kind of sense of humor!
The instant gratification of that damnable electronic cocaine syringe called a smart phone is quickly rendering otherwise intelligent people into unobservant dummies.
Selfie, while referring to the image captured, to me, seems to better describe most of the person in the image; self-centered. As your photos illustrate, there are very few times a photographer captures himself in his view of the world; there are many more meaningful things to look at in the world than one’s self.
Now you can take picture with your PHONE! No way!
Your pictures tell well the condition of our new world.
“A picture is worth a 1,000!”
I’m giving up texting for the next month or so. Since I don’t want to cut people off I’m still reading incoming texts, but responding to all of them with phone calls. Should be an interesting and probably funny learning experience. Let’s hope I’m not exhausted afterwards! 🙂