A couple of months ago I happened to watch a video clip from 1976 of the Australian hard rock band AC/DC. The video was about a street live performance of the song It’s a long way to the top (if you wanna rock n’ roll), featuring on their second studio album. A great song by the way. The performance starts with only a few people standing in front of the band and listening, and the crowd eventually grows bigger and bigger with the song.
I was sitting at my desk, relaxing and enjoying the video, and little by little I had this feeling that there was something strange with it. At first, I could not quite understand what it was about, and finally I realised it. There were smartphones in no hands, not even digital cameras. All people there were totally focused on what they were experiencing in that exact moment. No one trying to record the performance of the band. No one distracted by trying to capture the moment with any digital aid, only with their minds and hearts. No one trying to be the first one to share this experience on social media, not even for the altruistic pleasure of sharing something beautiful, but probably for the only purpose of being the first, and with the hope of having as many people as possible watching it, putting a tag, like, or whatever, and give them some recognition. All people were simply watching and listening just for the sake of doing so, and enjoy an experience right at the moment it was actually happening. A wonderful, unique moment.
And then I think about the overload of social media we are facing nowadays. I think that keeping up with Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Whatsapp, and whatsoever, must be a full time job (and not even a nine to five job!). And I wonder whether after all this, there is still time left for feelings and emotions. I think that if beautiful moments sometimes feel so ephemeral, it’s also to give me a chance to understand that I should simply make the best out of them. Once they are gone, there is no digital platform which can rock them back.
Pietro Bonizzi, Assistant Professor at Data Science and Knowledge Engineering