Watch the audience. Now that everyone has camera phones, they’re so caught up in documenting this event that they’re not actually experiencing it. Isn’t that strange? I remember when my kids were little, if there was a school event, parents were running up and down the aisle, taking pictures or videos. I’d look at them and think, “Geeze, I just want to pay attention and remember how cute my kid is right now.” (As a result, I have lots of memories — and few event pictures. The pictures of my kids are from when we were just hanging out.)
Of course, people do get pleasure going back and looking at pictures later (to experience what they missed, maybe). And of course, whatever floats your boat. But I think so many people are obsessed with getting that Kodak moment that they never really inhabit the experience.
And as to this affectionate dance with the Obamas: Well, there were TV cameras in the room. It’s not as if you wouldn’t be able to see it later. Why not just watch?
But this is all theoretical coming from me, because like Thoreau, I’m skeptical of any enterprise that requires new clothes. The thought of going to an inaugural ball is excruciating. I hate formal wear, and I don’t like crowds. I had my share of events as a reporter. Been there, done that, let me stay home.