I like technology.

I mean I like like technology.

I love the fact that the computer that fits in my pocket is more powerful than all the computers I had as a kid combined.

I also love the fact that the camera on that computer is smaller and more powerful than any camera I’ve ever owned outside of my Nikon DSLR.

Now given those simple resources it is very easy for me to take a snapshot of anything at anytime.

I see a cuddly little cat doing something cute. I can take a picture.

I see a man walking down the street dressed as Batman. I can take a picture.

Hell, I can even use pictures to take notes. I need to remember my miles and time on the treadmill? Just take a picture of the readout.

Instagram is one of my favorite social media sites, and right now on my personal IG account I have over 1000 pictures. Mostly of crap. On my phone right now I have nearly 3000 pictures, also mostly of crap. Every so often I get a nice picture that impresses me. But that only happens if I am actually trying.

I went to the National Zoo this past Sunday and at every single exhibit with an animal in sight more than half the people standing there had their phone or tablet out. They were punching at the screen, pinching and pulling, trying to get the perfect picture of what they were seeing.

But where they really seeing it?

Elephants at the National Zoo in DCHere is a picture of an elephant I took while at the zoo. I had to zoom in to make it look like I was actually close enough to take a picture of it with my phone. When looking at the elephant through the digital screen of my phone it appeared so far away. I couldn’t really make out the details of the animal through the tiny screen or the sun glare bouncing off it.

After snapping a single picture I put the phone in my pocket and leaned against the fence. I watched the elephant and suddenly it appeared more lifelike and even closer to me than it had through the phone. This picture of the elephant shows you that I saw the elephant, but what it doesn’t show you is the elephant flicking dirt on its back. It doesn’t show you the ears flittering back and forth, or the trunk sweeping across the ground. It doesn’t show you the eyes that I was able to look into as I tried to imagine what he was thinking.

I did the same when I came to the gorillas. They were even closer to me, separated by a (hopefully)thick piece of glass. I could have taken dozens of good pictures. Instead I threaded my way through smart phones, leaned against the glass, and looked into the gorilla’s eyes.

I didn’t take a lot of pictures of the animals I saw at the zoo. Maybe I would have taken more if I had my DSLR with the zoom lens. But even if I was taking more pictures I think I would try to do something I did not see the other people doing at all.

I would try to watch the animals and observe them.

Just about everyone around me was snapping pictures or trying to snap pictures and then rushing to the next animal down the line.

What is the point of that? Where they actually looking at the animals or just seeing them?

What is the point of snapping hundreds of photos every day if they just stay on our phone? And please don’t post all of those photos to your social media. If you have 20 pictures of a panda bear we don’t need to see all 20. Pick the best picture and share that. Or better yet work to get a good picture instead of taking two dozen snap shots and running to the next cage.

And most of all…after taking the pictures, put the phone in your pocket and actually look at the things around you.