The commercial above for the iPhone 5 has been garnering some critique. As you've seen it's a typical teenager, moping about...but not really, turns out said mopey-teen has been documenting family celebrations after all and has used amazing editing chops, great music and his life-altering mobile device to create a moving chronicle of his families Christmas. One of the critiques I read complained that the boy had to 'adopt an anthropological remove,' to be outside all the events he recorded, and would have been better off participating. This is a critique I hear a lot about technology, 'it stops people from being present...they aren't participating etc.' While I'm sure there are valid shades to that argument, mostly I think its stretched a little too far, and fits too nicely into a preconceived view of things.
The funny thing about many of the critiques of the ad is that the critics are completely caught up in the creators web--they immediately identify with the bored, mopey teen, and tun immediately to their arguments about voyeurism, obsessive disconnection etc., except that on this particular occasion, said teen is playing a role, and is, in fact, paying attention to the larger story going on around him, and he is fully present.
I think the moral of the story is twofold. Firstly, I resist the idea that one cannot be present and capturing moments at the same time (which, of course, is the point of the video, well that and selling you a device!), I do it all the time. People who know me give me Moleskine notebooks because I always carry one and make notes, write down ideas, quotes I'm hearing etc. and in order to do that I pause, and I often 'sit slightly outside' events, it's part of who I am--there is a fine line between voyeurism and observation.
Secondly, I do agree with the old exhortation to moderation in all things, and there are times when particiaption and engagment should be prioritized and anthropological remove negated, but sometimes I think the naysayers are just a bit too quick to critique and are in fact, not in the moment themselves, they are standing outside in a posture of anthropological remove with a preconceived idea ready to lay over whatever comes before them, just like mopey teens.