I am a sucker for a tearjerker, especially in a holiday commercial (I actually own an mp3 of Rockapella’s old Folgers Christmas ad).  Apple really knocked it out of the park with their 2013 iPhone 5s ad, though. Go ahead, watch.  Grab a tissue first.

If you’re reading this at work without headphones (I won’t tell), the first half of the ad shows what appears to be a disengaged teen boy, on his iPhone all the time while the rest of the family celebrates a Christmas weekend together.  Come Christmas morning, though, he reveals he has actually been recording all of the activities and edited together a montage for the whole family to watch.  Of course, the mom and grandma are wiping away tears by the end.

I think this speaks so powerfully to the relationship between making memories and recording them.  So often, people set up a false dichotomy – you must choose!  Either be present in the moment or photograph it.  These are not mutually exclusive terms, though.  It’s entirely possible for some people to do both.  In fact, preserving experiences in photographs and video can be a way for some people to participate more fully.  If I know I am going to blog about an experience, I pay special attention to details.  Similarly, if I am recording a video, I try to be aware of everything happening so I can take the right shots.

Technology is often blamed for separating us, but it does so much to bring us together.  This boy found a way to participate in the family on his own terms.  He also created a beautiful gift, one that will probably be remembered above all others in the years to come.

Well done, Apple.