Getting in Front of the Camera
May 20th, 2017
I did my first live-stream video broadcast over social media last weekend. Could anything be more horrible-sounding? Watching yourself on video is one of the most awful experiences ever. I still cringe whenever I think about the cinematic interpretation of Milton’s Paradise Lost that I created as a group project in high school English.
Being on video is bad enough, but doing it live? Yup, that’s definitely worse. No opportunity for careful editing to make you sound like you know what you’re doing. No do-overs when you stumble over your own name or sneeze mid-sentence. My father dutifully recorded my high school graduation speech but I’ve never watched it. Nor did I ever watch my wedding video.
Unfortunately, there was uniform agreement among my event committee that live broadcast video feeds from our art-making event were a must – and my New Year’s resolution was, after all, to Be Brave. So I gamely fired up the web cam and gave it a try. It turns out I move my head a lot when I talk. I look a bit like a very enthusiastic bobble-head doll.
Once I gained a bit of confidence, I decided to share the live-stream experience with my daughter, only to discover very quickly that I’m not the only one in the family with reservations about live journalism. I tried to do a live video during her designated art-making shift. I described it to her as being similar to the web chats we do with her grandparents, except we couldn’t see the people watching and it would be more than just the beloved grands. Oops. Big mistake. She absolutely panicked, no doubt envisioning thousands of unseen people watching her every move (a mental image that is legitimately unsettling). She wouldn’t look up at the camera and only spoke to me in a whisper. We gave up after three minutes and twenty two seconds.
I’ve long believed that you can divide the world into two types of people: those who are comfortable looking silly in public and those who aren’t. We all know the former. The lovable class clowns and self-confident thespians. They will sit in a dunk tank or stage an elaborate pratfall and derive no discernable emotional trauma from the experience. My son is one of these strange humans. He loves to be the center of attention and doesn’t much care what his audience thinks of him, just as long as they’re watching.
Then there are those more sedate denizens of the universe – like my daughter and me – who live in constant fear of making a fool of themselves in the eyes of the world. I have clear memories of dreading the ice-breaker games that always seemed to crop up at church youth events or classroom team-builders. I actually even hate to play ‘telephone’ (that game where you whisper a sentence from one person to the next to see how it morphs) because I’m afraid of being the person who has to announce the final manifestation, to howls of laughter from the assembled crowd. My daughter and I struggle mightily to discern the difference between “laughing at” and “laughing with.”
Interestingly, I have no problem with public speaking. I will cheerfully and without qualms stand up and address a roomful of people on any topic necessary. But only in serious settings. Don’t ask me to tell a joke. Well, except the knock-knock joke about the interrupting cow. I’ll do that one all day. It’s so funny.
I recognize that my fear limits me. I sometimes have trouble learning new things because I’m uncomfortable not being good at them immediately. But I’m trying to push myself. I took an art class and am exploring beginner yoga (with, it must be said, mixed results). And I pushed the “go live” button on the computer even though doing so made me feel faintly nauseous. As with most new endeavors, it got easier the more times I did it, although you won’t find me starting my own YouTube channel any time soon!