Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Mandela memorial selfie: If President Obama acts like this, don’t blame teenagers...

Are you a Fomo sapiens? Judging by his behaviour at Nelson Mandela’s memorial service, Barack Obama is a member of this new sub-species. So is our own Prime Minister, who should know better. The “Fomo” stands for Fear of Missing Out, a defining characteristic of a generation with itchy thumbs and short attention spans.

Fomo sapiens cannot leave its phones, tablets or laptops alone, no matter how inappropriate the occasion. Checking your texts or updating your Facebook status during a funeral, for instance, or taking a happy-snap of yourself with a couple of mates during a memorial service. Those, I hope we can still agree, are times when the focus should be on the dearly departed, who has gone to that undiscover’d country from whose bourn no traveller returns. Until, that is, we get the first “selfie” from the Other Side. Lol!

Homo sapiens (wise humans) first appeared in the fossil record in Africa about 195,000 years ago. It seems only fitting that Fomo sapiens (self-obsessed humans) appeared in Africa on Tuesday, in a rainy Johannesburg. The President of the United States snuggled in close to Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt, politics’ answer to Cameron Diaz, to make sure his smiling face was captured on her phone. Meanwhile, David Cameron launched himself into the frame from the right like a grinning dolphin at an aquapark.

 Was this really a fitting way to mark the passing of Prisoner 466/64, a man who, for 18 years, was kept by South Africa’s white-supremacist regime in an 8ft-by-7ft cell? Nelson Mandela was allowed to send just one letter and receive one letter every six months – a deprivation inconceivable to Fomo sapiens, who has to text, post or tweet once every six minutes to prove that he is still alive. Full story...

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