Monday, June 22, 2015

The time I put Instagram in its place.

Two friends captured previously at one of the public pianos.

I decided I wanted to take a walk today. I work in a basement. Sometimes we all just need to get out. I wanted some fresh air, to recall the season, and to escape the shackles of my computer.  

I walked to do some business at the bank, which is about a half mile from my workplace.  Along the way I encountered one of the City Sounds Public Pianos. Part of a local organization's efforts to put pianos in random spots in the city for anyone to play. I figured I would try it out.  I don’t know much about the project, but I assume the purpose is to bring people together. An artist paints and prepares the piano, musicians passing by sit and play and sing, interacting with passersby with no agenda. It’s a way for people to be present to each other.

I sat down to play.

“But wait. This is something I should document.”  I began questioning myself, “How can I get a video of this so I can post it to Instagram? I wish there were someone to hold the phone for me while I sing. Shoot.”  All of the sudden, this perfectly public art exhibit that I was participating in became a chance to gain attention elsewhere, just so that I could get a few hearts from people I hardly know.

I put aside my phone and kept playing. Forget about social media, I told myself.

A woman came up to me, “I heard you playing down the street! I love the piano, I can’t play anymore.”   

She was in a wheelchair, “Do you have any use of your hands?”  I asked her.   

“No, not since the accident.  Thank you for playing, I love hearing it,” she said, rolling away and leaving me alone to play for my fellow humans.  

Instagram was there, a phantom vibrating in my pocket, telling me I was disconnected - that mankind needed to know what I was doing. I said no. I played for the world in front of me, in all of their glory with skin and eyes and vital organs. I talked to another human being and felt the awkward emotions I was supposed to feel. That was the time I put Instagram in its place.