“Incredibly sad” [Update]


These photos are making the rounds this week. The first is from the announcement of Pope Benedict XVI back in 2005 (see update below). The second, the announcement of Pope Francis I on March 13, 2013. On one hand, it’s a testament to how Apple has changed the world, as Cult of Mac points out. On the other, I agree with Sam Soffes:

“This makes me incredibly sad…go outside, be present with the people you love when you’re with them, or go make something. Staring at your little screen isn’t doing anything for you.”

Update: I got it wrong.

The photo labeled “2013” does depict the announcement of Pope Francis I on March 13.  However, the photo labeled “2005” was taken during the funeral procession of Pope John Paul II, according to the Washington Post. Those events were separated by several years, but also, as Emi Kolawole points out, those images represent “…a very different mood and event type. There was no one addressing the crowd from the balcony [in the 2005 photo], for example. So, the comparison isn’t quite accurate.”

Kolawole then comments on other images of jubilant Catholics celebrating the announcement of Pope Benedict XVI in Vatican City, roughly two weeks after the 2005 funeral photo was taken. There are some cameras and recording devices visible, but significantly fewer than in the 2013 image.

A couple of things here. First, I failed to do my research. I apologize for that. Second, concerns about our tendency to view life’s significant moments through a glowing screen are still valid. Reader Chris Thompson sent this message via email (reprinted here with his permission):

“I have a different take on the Vatican cell phone picture. Those people aren’t using devices to detach, they’re using them to lock down something deeply important in their lives. I believe they’re connecting MORE with the moment. I’m with you that people check out and fall into their devices at times when they should be interacting with their friends and loved ones.

But that’s not what’s happening here. Every one of those people [in the 2013 photo] has their arms far above their heads. They’re taking photos and/or movies of an event, which, for anyone interested enough (Catholic faithful enough?) to actually go to the Square to watch is an extremely important event in their lives.

They’re not playing Angry Birds (Or, as a friend quipped, watching The Borgias).

They’re CREATING. They’re commemorating. They’re recording an event which moved them enough to stand with 100k other people in the dark rain to barely see a man they considered to be God’s messenger on earth. So, I’d ask, would your opinion of the photo be different if each of those phones were a Canon or Nikon DSLR?”

Good point. Again, apologies for getting my facts wrong. Also, comments are open.


  1. Well done, Dave.

    It’s too rare when we see a journalist stop, admit that they were wrong and didn’t do a complete mob AND come to the complete opposite conclusion.

    It might be more effective to publish your correction in a separate post.

    Again – well done.

  2. I thought the same thing when I saw the photo, Dave. I don’t understand why anyone would lament people wanting to capture a momentous event in history for themselves. People did this in the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, 80’s and 90’s they just used film based cameras. Talk of how this image makes people “sad” are misguided in my opinion. Also, as one of my favorite characters from Star Trek is fond of saying “Change is the essential process of all existence.” There is no going back, only forward. Learn to deal with it.

  3. Chris echoes my sentiments exactly. I think there’s a growing knee-jerk reaction against technology in certain techie circles that’s slightly bewildering. I don’t see many of these people selling their devices and going back to rotary phones, so basically they’re proclaiming when it’s appropriate to use modern technology and when it isn’t, and it’s coming across as preachy. (With all due respect, Dave. Love your blog.)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *