I am lucky. I am probably amongst the few group of people that watched the northern lights, worldwide speaking. But I am guessing I belong to an even more exclusive group — a group of people who consciously didn’t try to photograph it or record it in any way.
“Recording life is a poor substitute for living it.”
The Geography of Bliss
I face a dilemma wanting to start a travel blog. I am not a social media person and while I have filmed, photographed and edited video and photography as a job requirement, I don’t carry my camera everywhere I go. Having ,at least, decent photographs is a pre requirement for any travel blog. A picture is worth a thousand words, right?
But by recording the moment in any way other than our memory we are pretty much only half living it. It is virtually impossible to do so when trying to find the best angle, to choose the right aperture o the best light. So I made the decision not to.
When I decided to chase the Northern Lights near Reykjavik, I knew there was a risk of not seeing anything but a dark sky. Your chances dependent upon a combination of factors: clear and dark sky, a high KP-index number (0–10) or the the month you’re in. And that is not decisive. It also takes a certain amount of luck and perseverance to wait in the cold to see the sky turning fluoresce green.
From a millennial blogger’s point of view, it was almost an indispensable thing to do. It is as if my professional value depends upon capturing these kinds of moments. From a personal standpoint, I made a different call.
Nathan Jorgenson published an article on a phenomenon he called The Facebook Eye — our brains are always looking for moments that can be translated into a Facebook post. I feel that as, I read, we are trained to see the world in terms of what we can share online. Every photograph we take gains meaning according to its Facebook/Instagram value.
I have to admit that when I said I got to see the Northern Lights the first thing everyone asked me wasn’t “how was it” but “do you have any pictures”? As if being there was not enough. What counts is its shareable proof — the proof that I was there, that I enjoyed myself, that I was doing something.
And in this particular moment, logged off . Photographing and sharing it in any social media platform would ruin it for me. I made the decision of standing still and just wait and cherish the moment. I wanted the moment to be only mine. No likes, no shares, no comments. I didn’t anyone to see it the way I did. And, most of all, I didn’t want to relive it through a screen.
The truth is I could have lost my phone, my computer could have died, my camera could have been robbed and I could have forgotten my memory card and I would only be the second eye. So I decided to take the risk and rely only on my memory.