It’s also a time to get shitfaced and post selfies on Facebook of you wearing a red, white and blue t-shirt that you’ll stuff in your closet again until next year.
I can remember visiting national monuments as a kid and being in awe. Absorbed as I was in video games, the history and gravity of these places still meant something.
Did You Know?Many mannequins in the Gettysburg museum are former park attendants who strayed too far from marked roadways.
But visiting Gettysburg recently, all I saw was an endless horde of smart-phone zombies. It was like the Union and Confederate soldiers had risen from their graves, reanimated by Google and Apple to endlessly haunt the battlefield.
Nobody is capable of enjoying a trip, a meal, or company with their friends unless they have the sweet, soothing safety net of Facebook or Tinder or Instagram. There is never time for a silent moment to reflect on the past or the present because silence = awkward, and discomfort can only be allayed by burying your face in a screen.
Sheeple of Gettysburg
Trying to read plaques or line up shots is almost impossible, because of mindless daywalkers shambling to and fro across the roads and pathways, drawn here and there by the call of their tour guides like a shepherd tending to his flock.
Eternal Light Monument
The guides, by the way, are phenomenal people. Never before have you see guys so excited to do exactly what they love, even if 95% of their customers are zoned out and drooling on a 150-year-old cannon.
I mean, these guys are working the crowd like a Wild West snake oil salesman.
Even if you didn’t give a shit about Gettysburg or America or war, you’re almost forced to listen. Voice booming like Lincoln giving the Gettysburg Address. Details about commanding officers so intricate, you’d think they were former lovers. Battlefield descriptions so intense, you’d wonder if they were actually there.
For God’s sake men, Tinder can wait! The rebs are upon us!General Joseph 'Fighting Joe' Hooker
But Gettysburg now is almost as good today for people-watching as it is for monument-trekking.
Take a step back into the treeline at the North Carolina monument, and survey the busloads of tourists ambling up to the statues. Observe as they unsheathe their standard-issue selfie sticks, take aim at the statue, and fire off a quick staccato burst of photographs with a gaggle of friends, mouths agape—the caption later on Facebook probably reads “LOL still at Gay-ttysburg! GAG me!”
Should Have Stayed Home
No one can live in the moment without inserting themselves directly into that moment, and nothing counts if it isn’t recorded, properly filtered, and archived on Facebook. It’s possible, dare I say better, to passively enjoy certain things without attention-whoring.
I’m reminded of the girl who took selfies at Auschwitz, or the other girl who took selfies in front of her grandmother’s casket.
Guess what? You’re not that interesting. You’re not more interesting than Gettysburg, you’re not more important than grandma’s funeral, and nobody thinks it’s cute that you carry a portable speaker around with you because your tour guide is a “boring, creepy old man.”
Do me and everyone else a favor and stay on the bus, stay in the hotel, or stay home.