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"It was better in person"

Updated: Apr 17, 2018

Ever take a picture of a fireworks show? There's no shame in it, I have, many many times. No doubt, like me, you saved it as your wallpaper and look at it all throughout the day, occasionally sending it to friends and family multiple times throughout the year.

Sometimes I go to concerts and if the band is really kicking ass and rocking their hearts out, I start recording. By now I have at least fourteen full length cell-phone-recorded-albums and they're all I listen too. Yeah I mean sure the quality is garbage and half the audio is the guy next to me singing along off-key...

Guys I'm joking. I'm making all of this up. But that sounds terrible right? And the fireworks thing? Awful. Literally grounds to delete someone from your contacts.

BUT THEN WHY THE HECK DO WE DO IT? Why do we always record or photograph these intense in-person activities?

Again, I am completely guilty of these things. I am always taking photos of my food, cool places I visit, and people I love. And I always, always take a photo of a pretty sunset. At the root of it, I think it's because we want to share. It's just, in these cases, the in-person-experience is always better.

Some example sunset photos from when we lived in the Netherlands...

....The pictures don't do these moments justice.

We have this need to communicate, it's all part of being human. Some of us are anti-social, some of us are private, and some share wayyy too much. But communication connects us all, and sharing done right can strengthen those connections. 

If you are a product designer, your duty is to enhance the experience of users- ergonomically, aesthetically and functionally. I think somewhere in upcoming years "Design for Sharing" will be a phrased tossed around by hip design executives, but, it is a dangerous compromise of real-life, in the same way that taking a photo of a sunset is a distraction from the beauty in front of you. Sure that sunset is great, and maybe people online will want to see it, but when we caption the photo "it was better in person" remember; that's always how life should be.

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