The first time I went to Disney was 20 years ago. I will never forget the experience. My two kids were little and totally believed all the characters in those fancy suits were real. It was, as Disney so often promise, magical.
I especially remember the fireworks. All those twinkling patterns set to music, high above Cinderella’s castle. Next to me was a solitary man who watched the whole display through the viewfinder of his video camera, while his children stood next to him. At the time, I thought it was an odd thing to do. Here he was, surrounded by all this atmosphere, his three children filled with awe and wonder, missing the full experience as he recorded it for posterity. It struck me as a waste of a good memory.
Twenty years later, we visited Anaheim again and just had we had that first time, and on numerous visits to different Disneylands around the world since, we found a spot on Main Street and waited patiently for the fireworks. This time though, we were one of the few spectators in that sea of people not holding up our smartphones and watching the spectacle on the screens.Back home in London a few weeks later, I was sat outside a café on the banks of the River Thames. To my right was the magnificent Tower Bridge. To my left, the wonderful Tower of London. A group of Japanese tourists walked by, and it struck me that they were all holding selfie sticks, viewing those amazing sights on the small screens of their phones rather than experiencing it in the flesh. Since then, I see this all the time. Every event seems to be so meticulously filmed that the people doing the filming are distanced from the great things happening in their own lives.
My point is this, it is Christmas Eve. A time for sharing all the joy of life with those you love. For the next few days, put down your phones people. Live in the moment. Enjoy it. Those memories will be revisited more often than all those hours and hours of video ever will.
Virginia Heath writes witty, fast-paced romances filled with feisty heroines and mouth-watering heroes she would want to fall in love with.
The Discerning Gentleman's Guide, is out now.