Just look at all the people on the Embankment at New Year, videoing the fireworks with their camera-phones.
This is now de rigeur for public events, now. I noted the same eerie glow in St Peter’s Square earlier this year when the new Pope was appointed. And also at the inauguration of Barack Obama.
I have tried before to put my finger on the group-psychology going on here. It seems ridiculous to take copious photographs or video footage of something that is being televised (and probably archived for posterity on YouTube). The professional versions of the scene will always be better than the grainy, wide angle attempt on a phone. The phenomenon seems doubly weird when we consider that this year’s display was pretty much indistinguishable from last year’s.1 I suppose people just want their photograph, as a keepsake. It is a sort of proof: I was there.
It seems a shame that people will miss actually experiencing the event because they are filming it… and that film will likely never be watched by anyone.
But on the other hand… tell that to Abraham Zapruder.
Update June 2014
Just happened accross this glorious Louis CK bit on the Conan O’Brian Show.
1. Indeed, I’ve done a cheeky sleight of hand and used images from the 2013 display above. Could you tell the difference?