Updated: Jun 9, 2019
Occasionally I engage in the imprudent art of free association writing on a subject near and dear to my heart, and then posting without editing. It was inspired by my experience as an educator. I no longer teach full-time, but I do frequently work with kids in the arts. I noticed a trend that too many kids were posing or fighting for attention when someone broke out a camera, and adults encouraged it. It unsettled me because kids are still developing their own identity, but we've encouraged kids to develop personas instead of personalities. Here is one of my raw essays:
There’s something sad about always performing. Always needing approval from the audience. That’s what bothers me about children who are watched too much through a camera. It encourages them to be someone they would not be if it weren’t for a viewer in front of them. They are not carefree. When you don’t know the camera is present it is easier to forget your existence is in the gaze of another.
Maybe not all children. I certainly loved to be on camera. I found a special part of myself in it. It’s why I dared ever to get on a stage to sing and dance.
But when I see a child doing something they are engrossed in and suddenly come to attention when they realize someone is watching them, they change. And that engrossment we take from them. We need time to be involved in things we love to build our attention, to not be distracted by our performance of it. We need to be privately engrossed in an object or a sentiment or whatever, shaping our minds by asking questions throughout the process and answering them by oneself. Wherever the mind wanders is no problem. There is no time. There is only dance or project, or whatever it is.
We want to capture childhood, but we must consider how to do so without building a sense of self that is predicated on being cute. Self builds within. It is that voice that speaks to ourselves when we are engrossed in a project, unaware of any other presence we’re in. When self is based on how capable one is able to grab attention, one runs down an endless road of competition. It doesn’t matter because nobody could have too much attention, so nobody can ever get “the most” of it, so to speak. And even if one could have all the attention on them, what would others see? Who is that person within if one hasn’t been allowed to develop, or in other words, allowed to spend time alone with the voice within as to unconsciously compare it to other voices and opinions when heard from others? We need to know ourselves a little before we can understand that we have a place in this world and a relation to one another.