We recently went on a family vacation to Hawaii, and while on the island of Maui, we spent an afternoon in old town Lahaina. In the center of town is an magnificent Banyan tree that’s more than a hundred years old. There was a craft fair going on under it’s widespread branches so there were lots of people milling about. I noticed that one young tourist in particular was stunned at the size and beauty of the tree. She’d never seen one, so she immediately took a photo with her iPhone.
I was curious because she couldn’t take her eyes off the tree – at least the version in the photo she’d just taken. She stood there mesmerized by the Banyan tree on her iPhone and gushed to her friends about how impressive the tree was while pointing out it’s features on the screen.
I found it fascinating that here she was surrounded by the actual tree, and yet for her, the version in the photo she had just taken was now her reference point. Ignoring the actual tree, she was glued to its image on the phone.
But then again, in the age of selfies, it’s not the actual thing anymore, it’s the photo of the thing that becomes most prized.