Creative LeadershipEngaging Culture

An iPhone, a Banyan Tree, and the Power of Distraction

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.

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  1. Yikes…great reminder to be in the moment. As cringeworthy as this was to read, I know I’ve been guilty of something similar (more than once). Namely, videoing something on my phone and watching it back/sending it to someone instead of continuing to watch that thing LIVE and in person while it’s right in front of me. Ouch. Thanks for sharing this!

  2. This may or may not be the reason why I am not always eagerly going to live concerts these days … why do people stare at the band through a small screen when their own eyes can see so much more?

      1. Sorry, you said what I meant … long night of work jumbled my thoughts. I meant: I don’t like to go to some concerts because all I see are smartphone screens from people watching and recording. Some even do it in portrait mode, even worse. 😉

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